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DJI Announces Disabling of Flight Records Sync in the U.S., Putting User Data Protection First

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DJI Announces Disabling of Flight Records Sync in the U.S., Putting User Data Protection First

DJI Announces Disabling of Flight Records Sync in the U.S., Putting User Data Protection First

In response to mounting regulatory pressure, notably the threat of the Countering CCP Drones Act proposed by Rep. Elise Stefanik, DJI is making significant changes to its data policy. Starting June 2024, DJI will no longer allow drone operators in the United States to sync their flight records with DJI’s servers. Additionally, thumbnail previews will be removed from the DJI Fly App interface globally.

Major Changes in Flight Data Management

U.S. Flight Records Sync Disabled

From June 12, U.S. drone operators will find the “Sync Flight Data” option disabled in their flight app settings. Attempts to upload local flight records will result in an error message. By June 27, this option will be completely removed from the settings page with the next DJI Fly app update.

Dji To Disable Flight Records Sync In The U.s. 1

Global Removal of Thumbnail Previews

Simultaneously, DJI will stop generating and displaying thumbnail previews on the DJI Fly app interface for consumer drones worldwide. Enterprise drones are unaffected as they never featured thumbnail previews.

Dji To Disable Flight Records Sync In The U.s. 2

Backup Recommendations

DJI advises users who previously opted to sync their flight records to download and back up their data as soon as possible. This change currently applies only to U.S. operators, but DJI will assess the impact before potentially extending it to other regions.

Implications for Drone Operators

U.S.-Based Operators Traveling Abroad

When U.S.-based operators travel outside the country, they will find the flight record synchronization option available in those regions. However, this option will be disabled again upon their return to the U.S.

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International Operators in the U.S.

Drone operators from other Countries flying within the U.S. will not have their flight records synced during their stay.

Accessing Flight Records

Users can still manually access their flight records stored on the controller or SD card. Third-party flight software built through DJI’s Mobile SDK will remain unaffected.

Previously Uploaded Data

Flight records already uploaded to the cloud will still be accessible for download. However, new records generated in the U.S. will be deleted moving forward. U.S. users should back up their cloud-based flight records to avoid data loss.

No Opt-Out for Update

Users cannot opt out of this update but will retain manual access to their flight records. The change does not impact normal flight functions, but any previously synced data must be downloaded before it’s deleted.

Strategic Timeline

  • June 12: U.S. operators will see the “Sync Flight Data” option disabled in their app settings.
  • June 27: The option will be removed entirely from the settings page in the next DJI Fly app update.
  • Mid-July: The same update will stop generating and displaying thumbnail previews globally.

FAQs from DJI

If I’m based outside of the U.S., what changes will happen to my flight app if I fly in the U.S.? 

If a user from another region travels to the U.S. and generates flight records during their stay, those flight records will not be synced to their flight data after leaving the U.S.

What will happen if I don’t download the data stored in the cloud?

This change does not affect normal flight functions. However, once flight records which users previously opted-in to sync on the server are deleted, the flight data cannot be retrieved.

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If I am from the U.S. but travel overseas, what happens to my flight app? 

When a user from the United States travels to another region, the flight record synchronization toggle may reappear, allowing flight records generated in that region to be uploaded and downloaded normally. However, upon returning to the United States, the flight record synchronization toggle will be disabled again, and uploading will not be possible.

Can I opt-out of this update? I want my flight records! 

Please note that you will still be able to access your flight records manually. It will be stored in the controller or the SD card. 

How will this update affect third-party apps?

Third-party flight software that has been built through DJI’s Mobile SDK will not be affected. 

Will previously uploaded flight records be affected?

Flight records that have already been uploaded to the cloud are currently still available for download. However, those generated within the U.S. will be deleted moving forward. To ensure that your valuable flight memories are not lost, it is recommended that users within the United States back up their cloud-based flight records as soon as possible.

If the user does not update the flight app, will the original interface remain unchanged? Can flight records still be uploaded?

The user will need to be connected to the internet in order to try and upload (or download previously uploaded) flight records. From June 12, operators will no longer be able to upload new flight records as the connection to the server would have already been disabled in the U.S. Instead, operators will see a “Download” button that they can use to access and save a copy of their previous flight records data manually to local storage in the next update.

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DroneXL’s Take

DJI’s decision to disable flight records sync in the U.S. reflects the increasing scrutiny on data privacy and security, particularly in light of potential legislative actions like the Countering CCP Drones Act. While this move may inconvenience some users, the ability to manually back up flight records ensures critical data isn’t lost. Globally, the removal of thumbnail previews might streamline the app interface, enhancing user experience. As DJI evaluates feedback from this rollout, further adjustments may be made to balance user convenience with privacy considerations.

Photos courtesy of DJI.

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