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What is DJI GO mining from my phone?
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4201 57 2017-7-26
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Tomten
lvl.3
Flight distance : 168684 ft
Sweden
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Hello,

I am a fairly new DJI user, I bought my Mavic about 4 weeks ago.
Its been a blast with this device with its features and quality.

But I got a rather wierd question regarding DJI´s datamning of my phone, WHAT is it sending all the time?
Everytime the app is running in the background it is sending data, dosent matter if I am flying or not. So DJI is mining some kind of data from me and I would like to know what it exatcly DJI is getting so much money for so that I can´t wait until I use the app again?

This happens often that I find the DJI app sending data, and each en everytime I force Close it.
*NOTE the spike visable there is when I flew, but what you can see is the small ammout of green following the spike. The green matter represent data sent.

Screenshot_20170726-073256.png


It is getting a little annyoing as it continues to drain my battery?
And haven´t I paid enoguh when I bought a drone for over $100?

2017-7-26
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CuaC
First Officer
Flight distance : 369531 ft
Germany
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I don't know which phone are you using. With my SG7 I have to forceclose it after using it, that fixes the issue until the next time I open it.
2017-7-26
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Twirlip
lvl.4
Flight distance : 1907622 ft
United States
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It could be something creepy... but my guess is that it's just sloppiness.  I continue to be impressed at DJI's hardware engineering skills, but their software, not so much.

They don't appear to have put much effort into being really "mobile-friendly", e.g. installing on Android asks for every permission imaginable, including permissions that are completely irrelevant to DJI GO 4's actual job, such as the ability to turn my phone's flashlight on and off, or the ability to edit my contacts.  Speaking as a software engineer, I recognize the symptoms:  it's not because they have some evil malicious plans to send sinister Morse code signals with my flashlight, but simply that their software folks followed the path of least resistance:  "ask for all permissions" is trivially easy from the developer's perspective, whereas "carefully engineer the app to only need the absolute minimum of permissions, and ask for just those permissions" requires skill with Android and an investment of engineering time.  In other words, it may simply be laziness or cluelessness than some sinister scheme.

FWIW:  the app does the same thing (constant background network activity) even on my DJI CrystalSky (which is an Android 5.1 device).  It's their device, there's literally nothing on the device to mine other than their own app.  And yet it yammers endlessly in the background, as long as Wi-Fi is enabled, gradually draining the battery.  Takes a lot longer than with a phone, since the CrystalSky has such a lovely honkin' big battery on it.  But if I leave it sitting around the house for a few days with Wi-Fi enabled, the battery drains down.  I solve this by just leaving Wi-Fi turned off all the time, and the battery drain stops.  (Obviously not an option for a phone, but since there's not really any reason to have networking turned on for the CrystalSky, I just leave it off.  I only turn it on briefly when I want to sync my flight records.)

So, this may simply be a case of Occam's razor, "never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence."  Or, it could be something that a privacy-loving Westerner would view as nefarious; there's no way to know.  But as folks have pointed out, force-killing the app seems to solve the problem.  I have the app installed on my phone (since I used it before the CrystalSky arrived).  It's been sitting there for over a week, completely inactive since the last time I force-killed it (no reason to run it anymore, since getting the CrystalSky), and I haven't heard a peep out of it, and the phone battery seems fine.
2017-7-26
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Tomten
lvl.3
Flight distance : 168684 ft
Sweden
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Twirlip Posted at 2017-7-26 07:45
It could be something creepy... but my guess is that it's just sloppiness.  I continue to be impressed at DJI's hardware engineering skills, but their software, not so much.

They don't appear to have put much effort into being really "mobile-friendly", e.g. installing on Android asks for every permission imaginable, including permissions that are completely irrelevant to DJI GO 4's actual job, such as the ability to turn my phone's flashlight on and off, or the ability to edit my contacts.  Speaking as a software engineer, I recognize the symptoms:  it's not because they have some evil malicious plans to send sinister Morse code signals with my flashlight, but simply that their software folks followed the path of least resistance:  "ask for all permissions" is trivially easy from the developer's perspective, whereas "carefully engineer the app to only need the absolute minimum of permissions, and ask for just those permissions" requires skill with Android and an investment of engineering time.  In other words, it may simply be laziness or cluelessness than some sinister scheme.

Great post!

I understand and agree with what your point is. But what boggle me more is why the data usage, its practically sending a pretty large sum of data.
I have a problem seeing how bad design or lazy coding can cause the app to hold an communication and keep doing for a long period of time (Hours/days).

Now, I have not used any network tools to review what and to who the app is sending data. But it would still be interesting to see. Especially since so many people are complaining about it.



@CuaC

Sorry, forgot to state that. I use Samsung S7 Edge with original rom.
Sure, I can force close. But for a 100€ Drone, needing to force close the app after each flight and each reboot of the phone feels a little bit excessive
2017-7-26
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namja
lvl.1
Flight distance : 86087 ft
United States
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It's not just sloppiness. DJI is data gathering. Yup, need to force close each time if you don't want data collection.
2017-7-26
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Ex Machina
Captain
Flight distance : 1314142 ft
United States
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namja Posted at 2017-7-26 09:17
It's not just sloppiness. DJI is data gathering. Yup, need to force close each time if you don't want data collection.

Specifically what is DJI data gathering?
2017-7-26
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dronist
Captain
United States
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I spoke about this when they first decided to make everyone register before new updates. Which most likely they installed some kind backward connection to collect all kind of information. It is the same thing with P4P+  they have 4 to 8 instances running all the times so now I only turn on the device when I first disconnect the internet connection and only fly any DJI's drone in AIRPLANE MODE.

Again in settings don't allow DJI APP to use cellular  and or WIFI data.

FLY FREE MY FRIENDS!  

2017-7-26
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DJI Susan
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Tomten, I apologize if this bothers you. Please force close it for now. It might be a long way, but our APP engineers are trying their best to make it better. If you have other questions, welcome to contact us. Thanks for your feedback.

@Twirlip Thank you for clarification and support of DJI. Please believe that DJI would love to provide more chances and amazing experiences for more people to explore the world with our products.
2017-7-26
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Dr-G
lvl.1
United States
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DJI Susan Posted at 2017-7-26 23:49
Tomten, I apologize if this bothers you. Please force close it for now. It might be a long way, but our APP engineers are trying their best to make it better. If you have other questions, welcome to contact us. Thanks for your feedback.

@Twirlip Thank you for clarification and support of DJI. Please believe that DJI would love to provide more chances and amazing experiences for more people to explore the world with our products.

I bought a Mavic a few weeks ago and updated and flew only once. My phone started draining the battery like they do before they die, so I bought a new one. Same thing was happening and then I saw it was on in the background sucking power. Good news is my new phone has a larger screen!
2017-7-27
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Twirlip
lvl.4
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United States
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DJI Susan Posted at 2017-7-26 23:49
Tomten, I apologize if this bothers you. Please force close it for now. It might be a long way, but our APP engineers are trying their best to make it better. If you have other questions, welcome to contact us. Thanks for your feedback.

@Twirlip Thank you for clarification and support of DJI. Please believe that DJI would love to provide more chances and amazing experiences for more people to explore the world with our products.

Thank you.  As a professional software developer myself with over 20 years of experience, I'm always concerned when I see software that has such a significant issue.  The fact that this particular software has a "captive audience" (i.e. Mavic owners who have already shelled out US$1000 or more for a drone, and have no choice but to use the software) places an especial onus on the developer to follow good practices.

Furthermore, customers naturally value their privacy, and are rightly very concerned when an app that insists on draconian wide-open permissions is constantly exchanging data about the customer's personal, private phone, in circumstances where there is clearly no valid reason to do so (i.e. obviously not tied to the functioning of the app).

I would strongly recommend the following improvements to the DJI GO 4 app:

1.  Request only BARE MINIMUM permissions at installation.  The Android OS has a granular permissions model for a very good reason:  it allows users to know, reliably, what an app might be doing.  For example, currently DJI GO 4 requests essentially every single permission possible, including ones that it has no legitimate need for-- e.g. the ability to turn my phone's flashlight on/off, the ability to read (or even edit) my contacts, the ability to access my phone and place phone calls, etc.   The app should be designed so that it only requests *just* the permissions it actually needs, and that should be a very small set, since most of what the app does is just talk to the drone controller via USB.  There's no reason why it should need broad permissions in the OS.

2. Communicate privacy policy clearly to the user.  When the user runs the app for the first time, it should pop up a dialog that explains "here's exactly what data we gather, and what we send."  Be honest and transparent about this.  It will build customer confidence and they will thank you for this.

3. Be parsimonious about data transmission and battery usage.  The app simply shouldn't ever be accessing the network in the background.  It makes sense that it needs to access the network if the user's trying to sync their flight records, or update NFZ.  It makes sense to do a check on app startup whether an updated version is available.  But when the user's not flying the drone and the app isn't in the foreground, it really ought to just go totally silent and dormant.
2017-7-27
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DJI Susan
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Twirlip Posted at 2017-7-27 10:59
Thank you.  As a professional software developer myself with over 20 years of experience, I'm always concerned when I see software that has such a significant issue.  The fact that this particular software has a "captive audience" (i.e. Mavic owners who have already shelled out US$1000 or more for a drone, and have no choice but to use the software) places an especial onus on the developer to follow good practices.

Furthermore, customers naturally value their privacy, and are rightly very concerned when an app that insists on draconian wide-open permissions is constantly exchanging data about the customer's personal, private phone, in circumstances where there is clearly no valid reason to do so (i.e. obviously not tied to the functioning of the app).

Thanks for your kindliness and patience. I have reported to our engineers for further review and hopefully they will consider and optimize.
2017-7-31
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Tech24
Second Officer
Flight distance : 214358 ft
United Kingdom
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Tomten,
couldn't you just turn off data traffic while flying?
DJI 4 Go app needs just to be connected to connect and login when launching app, after this point you can turn it off.
It would prevent from using sending any data from yours.

Mars
2017-7-31
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SafariMan
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You don't have to be connected to the Great World Wide Web to fly. Just go in airplane mode and...wow...no more worries about data collection. Isn't that great ;-)
2017-7-31
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Griffith
First Officer
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United States
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dronist Posted at 2017-7-26 12:25
I spoke about this when they first decided to make everyone register before new updates. Which most likely they installed some kind backward connection to collect all kind of information. It is the same thing with P4P+  they have 4 to 8 instances running all the times so now I only turn on the device when I first disconnect the internet connection and only fly any DJI's drone in AIRPLANE MODE.

Again in settings don't allow DJI APP to use cellular  and or WIFI data.

It's not new to the recent updates.  DJI has been retrieving data in the background for many months.
2017-7-31
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Griffith
First Officer
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SafariMan Posted at 2017-7-31 04:35
You don't have to be connected to the Great World Wide Web to fly. Just go in airplane mode and...wow...no more worries about data collection. Isn't that great ;-)

Unless you can leave your phone in airplane mode all the time, remember to force-close the app and it's several processes.  It continues to run and pass data in the background long after flying - even if you haven't flown for days or weeks  :-(
2017-7-31
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dronist
Captain
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Griffith Posted at 2017-7-31 04:58
It's not new to the recent updates.  DJI has been retrieving data in the background for many months.

I know it is not new and when I raised the issue when I found out about it early in the year, people said oh no it can't be... or it is conspiracy theory or ...
\
2017-7-31
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Griffith
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dronist Posted at 2017-7-31 06:05
I know it is not new and when I raised the issue when I found out early in the yearit people said oh no it can't be or conspiracy theory or ...
\

I may need to contact some of my old colleagues with network analyzers and see what's going out. I have a PC tool somewhere, but haven't used it in several years.  
2017-7-31
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Dexter1759
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Thanks for this post I was unaware of the background data issue.  My primary concern being battery life (which is poor enough!), I've just checked out the app on my Xperia Z5 and since 11 July it's used 57.78 MB of data, 47.18 of that being in the background! that's crazy.

I've disabled background data for the DJI GO app for now, but not sure if that means it'll just still collect the data and send it all when it's in the Foreground anyway!
2017-7-31
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Tomten
lvl.3
Flight distance : 168684 ft
Sweden
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DJI Susan Posted at 2017-7-26 23:49
Tomten, I apologize if this bothers you. Please force close it for now. It might be a long way, but our APP engineers are trying their best to make it better. If you have other questions, welcome to contact us. Thanks for your feedback.

@Twirlip Thank you for clarification and support of DJI. Please believe that DJI would love to provide more chances and amazing experiences for more people to explore the world with our products.

Altough it feels somewhat good to hear that response, but in a honesty. That feels like pure bullocks, even if taken account of what Twirlip says, that DJI is missing the competence to create an APP for either iOS or Android.

As many says, "Set phone to Airplane mode" or "just rememeber to force close", the walkaround is simple, force close the DJI Spyware. But, I mean. I bought a drone for €1000 and I need to maintain the software based APP. And the whole reason being that it uploads so much stuff that it drains my phone?!

This is just bizarre that DJI has this spyware with so little information given to the end user.

The most important question is also now, WHAT IS DJI MINING.
All their EULA says is bascially what they reservs themself  to do with the data but never what kind of data.. Since their Spyware app actually requests ALLOT of Permissions...


"We work with third party service providers to provide application development, hosting, maintenance, flight environment data, account verification, and other services for us. These third parties may have access to or process your information as part of providing those services for us."

"Please note that if you conduct your flight in specific countries, your flight data might be monitored and provided to the governmental authorities according to local regulatory law."

"Information about our users, including personal information and any information collected through the DJI Go App, may be disclosed and otherwise transferred to an acquirer, successor, or assignee as part of any merger, acquisition, debt financing, sale of assets, or similar transaction, or in the event of an insolvency, bankruptcy, or receivership in which information is transferred to one or more third parties as one of our business assets."

"We may make certain aggregated, automatically-collected, or otherwise non-personal information about users of the DJI Go App available to third parties for various purposes"

2017-7-31
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NavigatorNL
First Officer
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@Twirlip

Great contribution, thanks!
2017-7-31
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jeebs-9
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United States
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Twirlip Posted at 2017-7-27 10:59
Thank you.  As a professional software developer myself with over 20 years of experience, I'm always concerned when I see software that has such a significant issue.  The fact that this particular software has a "captive audience" (i.e. Mavic owners who have already shelled out US$1000 or more for a drone, and have no choice but to use the software) places an especial onus on the developer to follow good practices.

Furthermore, customers naturally value their privacy, and are rightly very concerned when an app that insists on draconian wide-open permissions is constantly exchanging data about the customer's personal, private phone, in circumstances where there is clearly no valid reason to do so (i.e. obviously not tied to the functioning of the app).

Gold!!! Couldn't have said it any better?
2017-7-31
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R&L Aerial
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There mining for marketing purposes.  Dji wants to know where you fly, how long  you fly, how often you fly, what features you use the most, bla bla bla, they also want to know how many have altered there flight parameters.....
2017-7-31
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Seamless Media
lvl.2
United States
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I installed NoRoot Firewall, and there is definitely a crazy amount of activity from the DJI app.
2017-7-31
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MARSAN
First Officer
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Belgium
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I don't know whether this is a feature available on the Samsung Galaxy S8 only, but it can put apps permanently to sleep and only wake them when they are being used.
This Always sleeping feature is available when long pressing an app and then selecting Sleep in the pop-up menu or in the Settings > Device maintenance > Battery > Always sleeping apps > Add app to be put to sleep.
Also deactivate the app permissions of your choice from the app manager in the settings (S8 only feature?).
2017-7-31
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dronist
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Griffith Posted at 2017-7-31 06:44
I may need to contact some of my old colleagues with network analyzers and see what's going out. I have a PC tool somewhere, but haven't used it in several years.

P4P+ will give you better idea on how applications are running in the background. I keep closing them and then they start running again. The remote for the P4P and the P4P+ are the same but the P4P+ remote keeps loosing power at a faster rate then the P4P remote that I have and that is how I ofund out about all the instances they have running in the background some like the "PHONE" app and "MOBILE NETWORK CONFIGURATION" I can't even disable.

Why DJI needs the "PHONE" APP & "MOBILE NETWORK CONFIGURATION" running in the background and WON'T ALLOW US TO DISABLE them???




2017-8-1
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Tomten
lvl.3
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R&L Aerial  Posted at 2017-7-31 12:23
There mining for marketing purposes.  Dji wants to know where you fly, how long  you fly, how often you fly, what features you use the most, bla bla bla, they also want to know how many have altered there flight parameters.....

I have no issue with them data mining about how I am using their product, however I have an issue with them constantly uploading data all the time my phone is running and I am not using any DJI products.
For example, at one time I hadent flown for at least 2 weeks, why does DJI then appear in the background and send data or ... DJI??


This tells me that their app is not only mining data about their product, but rather about EVERYTHING else on my phone.
I feel like DJI should not give a flying f*ck who my contacts are, what apps I have installed, have access to what accounts I have on my phone, even less the have the power to add and/or remove them.

WHY does DJI GO app need the permission to make a call? Why does DJI GO app need access to control myu flashlight?!

And with all these permissions, their app is still running in the background... and continuously sending data...
2017-8-1
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Nikon 1
Second Officer
United States
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As I currently have (2) iPad mini 4s for Flying my Mavic and Spark - and they are dedicated to just those tasks - I keep NO personal data on those devices, for this very reason!

I am currently waiting for the CrystalSky Ultra, which should limit what DJI may be mining.  "Perfect Paranoia IS Perfect Awareness!"
2017-8-1
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Tomten
lvl.3
Flight distance : 168684 ft
Sweden
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These are the permissions that DJI´s GO app request´s...
DJI GO 4--For drones since P4



This app has access to:
Device & app history

    retrieve running apps
    read sensitive log data

Identity

    find accounts on the device
    add or remove accounts

Contacts

    find accounts on the device

Location

    approximate location (network-based)
    precise location (GPS and network-based)
    access extra location provider commands

Phone

    directly call phone numbers
    read phone status and identity

Photos/Media/Files

    access USB storage filesystem
    read the contents of your USB storage
    modify or delete the contents of your USB storage

Storage

    read the contents of your USB storage
    modify or delete the contents of your USB storage

Camera

    take pictures and videos

Microphone

    record audio

Wi-Fi connection information

    view Wi-Fi connections

Device ID & call information

    read phone status and identity

Other

    Access download manager.
    download files without notification
    full license to interact across users
    manage document storage
    control media playback and metadata access
    close other apps
    view network connections
    read battery statistics
    pair with Bluetooth devices
    access Bluetooth settings
    send sticky broadcast
    change system display settings
    change network connectivity
    connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
    control flashlight
    full network access
    close other apps
    run at startup
    draw over other apps
    use accounts on the device
    control vibration
    prevent device from sleeping
    modify system settings
    add words to user-defined dictionary
    Google Play license check
    read Google service configuration

2017-8-1
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Tomten
lvl.3
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I had a short flight session yesterday and forgot to force close the app.

During those hours it actually ran it did as usual, drain my battery. So much that my phone started to warn me about it (Samnsugn S7 Edge) and it recommended me to shut it down.
But the level of data had for these hours changed from not sending continusly but rather more data on diffrent times, for example it peaked a higher Data usesage and after a couple of seconds (?) it went silent, just to start again to use Data.

So the new change didnt make anything better, but it change the pattern.... :s

Am I alone with this?
2017-8-6
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supaphly42
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I have been having issues with getting spam emails spoofed to look like they're coming from my contacts. I have unique regularly changed passwords on my email and 2 factor auth turned on, so it's unlikely anyone has actually gained access. However, I began looking closer when I got one a couple days ago from someone I had just manually added as a contact less than a week ago.

I started thinking of ways this could happen, and thought about my phone. I checked, and only a handful of non system apps had access to my contacts, including for some reason the DJI app. Coupled with recent reviews I've read on the Play store about massive background data usage even when the app hasn't been used in weeks, I'm lead to wonder if the app is doing data mining?? Anyone else notice anything similar?
2017-9-20
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LIVNXXL
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Tomten Posted at 2017-7-26 08:39
Great post!

I understand and agree with what your point is. But what boggle me more is why the data usage, its practically sending a pretty large sum of data.

The drone was a 1000 dollars. You are not having an issue with the drone. The app was free. I am sure if DJI fixes all the app problems we will be paying for that also. There is always Litchi if you are that inconvenienced by having to shut down the DJI app
2017-9-20
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Peter Galbavy
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DJI are basically an arm of the Chinese government, witness the changes to exert control over users in an authoritarian fashion and data mining like this. Always fly in Airplane mode, don't sync flights, forceclose and hope they have actually removed the sleight-of-hand background app update features that should not have been there.
2017-9-21
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DocAraxá
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LIVNXXL Posted at 2017-9-20 10:34
The drone was a 1000 dollars. You are not having an issue with the drone. The app was free. I am sure if DJI fixes all the app problems we will be paying for that also. There is always Litchi if you are that inconvenienced by having to shut down the DJI app

That is my point of view!
2017-9-21
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method007
Second Officer
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Its a crappy app, bottom line.  I would suggest using other apps, like Litchi.
2017-9-21
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rolling56
Captain
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If you go into Setting in the DJI GO app and then Privacy Setting you can turn it off..........in the Android 4.1.9 version that is.
2017-9-21
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Pumavic
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rolling56 Posted at 2017-9-21 08:23
If you go into Setting in the DJI GO app and then Privacy Setting you can turn it off..........in the Android 4.1.9 version that is.

I adjusted my settings...maybe now I won't get ads downloaded to my gallery...really DJI??
2017-9-21
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Tomten
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rolling56 Posted at 2017-9-21 08:23
If you go into Setting in the DJI GO app and then Privacy Setting you can turn it off..........in the Android 4.1.9 version that is.

That dosent work. It was the first thing I turned off :/...
Didnt do sh*t..

It still sends data in the background when its not forced off...
2017-9-30
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lovert
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Australia
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It been well over a year since this issue was reported.    My DJI GO app is still constantly uploading data.

I want DJI to tell me why it is uploading data from my phone and what data it is uploading ?  

I don't want to hear some double speak answer.
2018-9-24
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Tomten
lvl.3
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lovert Posted at 2018-9-24 00:47
It been well over a year since this issue was reported.    My DJI GO app is still constantly uploading data.

I want DJI to tell me why it is uploading data from my phone and what data it is uploading ?  

Yes, its sickening but I think what needs to be done is to raise this to a higher level.
There were rumors that DJI would open a store in Sweden (Although I don't know about that ever since China got triggered). But IF they do I plan to question them allot more...


I mean, even the US Military forbid their peeps to use DJI just because of DJI´s shameful spying methods.
2018-9-24
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Johnny C!
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I have 2 Sparks, which I have enjoyed immensely, and as a result
I have acquired my Part 107 to begin a commercial business.

I was waiting a few months for the bugs to shake out on a
M2P before buying one after the first of the year.

This thread will make it very difficult to follow through on
that plan.

I will begin looking elsewhere for my next drone.

John
2018-9-24
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