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Are we being tracked.
315 7 11-15 02:48
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Nidge
First Officer

United Kingdom
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Within the last few days DJI have been demonstrating a new APP that allows ANYONE to track YOUR activities while flying one of their products. While the initial thought might be "That's a novel idea" I fear it could have a more sinister and potentially threatening connotation.

This will allow anyone to read the data from your drone, identifying the pilot and the pilots location. I guess the purpose is so that the drone ignorant population can then target a flyer and report that flyer to the authorities, much like the Stazi did in Eastern Germany before the wall came down.

DJI claim that the mobile device will receive a WiFi signal from the drone and display the flight and the pilot's details and location. As far as I know this has been demonstrated with the Mavic Air and a Mavic Pro, possibly a Phantom too. The Spark's 5.8GHz channels are not authorised for WiFi use in the EU and as such most mobile devices are blocked from receiving those frequencies. So to any DJI Rep monitoring this forum, is the Spark immune from such, possibly unlawful, intrusion into its customers privacy and freedom of movement?

The DJI article can be found here:  https://www.dji.com/newsroom/news/dji-demonstrates-direct-drone-to-phone-remote-identification

Regards

Nidge.
11-15 02:48
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DAFlys
Captain
Flight distance : 555148 ft
United Kingdom
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theres a couple of threads discussing this,  but it seems to me that they must have added some extra tech to the drones as the Mavic Pro doesnt do Wifi as it uses Ocusync, that said its sill at 2.4ghz so maybe they could re-purpose the radio to do both.
11-15 02:56
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Montfrooij
Captain
Flight distance : 1698205 ft
Netherlands
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DAFlys Posted at 11-15 02:56
theres a couple of threads discussing this,  but it seems to me that they must have added some extra tech to the drones as the Mavic Pro doesnt do Wifi as it uses Ocusync, that said its sill at 2.4ghz so maybe they could re-purpose the radio to do both.

To my best knowledge that does not matter. But I'm no expert on this.
Have you read this somewhere?
11-15 04:44
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S-e-ven
Captain
Flight distance : 3740030 ft
Thailand
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In europe there could be still hope, that this system, "every one with a phone can track and know",   would violate the personal rights of the pilots.
However, we won't  get around, that official agencies, police, ...., will get on of these sooner or later.
I hope they don't forget a worldwide registration base, where a drone pilot can sign up.
And when he want to fly in a foreign country, he releases that info for this foreign country and then can legally fly in there.
THAT would be a relief!
One setup for all the world!
But they focus on "all the worlds pilots need to be under suspicion"

11-15 07:39
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Nidge
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United Kingdom
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S-e-ven Posted at 11-15 07:39
In europe there could be still hope, that this system, "every one with a phone can track and know",   would violate the personal rights of the pilots.
However, we won't  get around, that official agencies, police, ...., will get on of these sooner or later.
I hope they don't forget a worldwide registration base, where a drone pilot can sign up.

I’m viewing this in the same way that the legalities of viewing the activity on someone else’s WiFi network might apply.

In the UK it is an offence to access a Wireless network, encrypted or not, that you don’t have prior permissions from the owner/administrator. The laws for this are laid out in the Wireless Telegraphy Act, the Interception of Communications Act, and the Misuse of Computers Act.

Now if the Tools that DJI have created were only available to the relevant enforcement agencies I don’t see an issue. But to release it to the general public, even a slimmed down version, is potentially courting disaster. DJI are not exactly renowned for their data security practices. The restrictions they put in their products firmware are easily defeated, and there’s been more than a few instances where large security holes have been exposed  in their “secure” networks. I could see a possibility of someone reworking the public version of the APP to gain access to data they would otherwise be denied.

I know that there are many network compromising tools available to download but these are usually provided with the caveat that they are only to be used for testing on networks the user is solely responsible for. There are also simple APPs I’ve seen that will work with some of the Yuneec and Horizon Hobby Drones that can monitor the data and assume control of the craft. But again these are intended for the sole use of the owner.
The term "Broadcast" needs to be better defined. A wireless network broadcasts a SSID but this does not show who the user is or the traffic on the Network. Even an analog FPV transmitter's broadcast doesn't necessarily include details of the flyer UNLESS the flyer wishes to. The DJI system, as best as I can tell, will include a pilot identifier, the location of both the drone and the pilot, along with other information over which the pilot has no control of its disclosure.

Sure would be nice if one of the DJI reps on here would come from behind the curtain and address some of these concerns to their customers.

Nidge.
11-16 02:25
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dwin1977
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Flight distance : 2001299 ft
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United States
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S-e-ven Posted at 11-15 07:39
In europe there could be still hope, that this system, "every one with a phone can track and know",   would violate the personal rights of the pilots.
However, we won't  get around, that official agencies, police, ...., will get on of these sooner or later.
I hope they don't forget a worldwide registration base, where a drone pilot can sign up.

I agree with this response. A WHOLE lot of people are sharing the airspace now. Transparency is a must. We know where every airplane and helicopter are at all times. Why should we be different?
11-17 14:24
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Nidge
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United Kingdom
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dwin1977 Posted at 11-17 14:24
I agree with this response. A WHOLE lot of people are sharing the airspace now. Transparency is a must. We know where every airplane and helicopter are at all times. Why should we be different?

Not strictly true.

Not all aircraft carry ADS-B beacons. In fact it is not a requirement for them to do so that’s why many small privately owned aircraft don’t carry these devices. Even if they did the information only identifies the aircraft, it doesn’t identify the pilot, the owner, or passengers.

A whole lot of people are sharing the public roads, motorised cars and bikes, and while they display a license plate, or tag, that info does not identify the driver nor his or her journey. By the same analogy should we electronically tag cyclists, scooters, skateboards, and rollerskates? They are sharing the same road space.

As I say I don’t have an issue with the relevant authorities using these tools. Hopefully they are trained to identify infractions and deal with them correctly. However allowing the general public access is ridiculous. At best it will be looked at as just a novelty, like a Pokemon Go game. However I do see the definite possibility for it to be used for more malicious purposes. Many of us fly in remote(ish) areas on our own and this APP could potentially advertise that, along with the fact we have some expensive and much sought after items in our possession. I maybe 6ft 4inch, 235lbs, and look like a drummer from a Death Metal Band, but I’m also disabled and have less chance fighting my way out of a wet bag than fending off someone who has purposely tracked me down with the intention of taking my toys off me.

You only have to read some comments to news articles about “Drones”. Plenty off loons saying they would be prepared to bestow physical harm on anyone innocently flying their toy because it makes them angry because of reasons.

Regards

Nidge.
11-18 01:02
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Crack4sure
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Pakistan
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Great post as always! You article helped us and considered as best content on the topic. Thanks much
11-18 02:26
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