Nov 10, 2020 / 23:21

Chinese technology firm found inserting illegal nine-dash line on app

The Hanoitimes - Vietnamese netizens have reported the violation to Google and Apple.

Vietnamese Internet users have found a Beijing-claimed nine-dash line map in an app developed by a Chinese technology company, according to local media.

 DJI Fly app for drone operators using illicit nine-dash line. Source: Zingnews

On November 9, a member in a group of flycam users disclosed the appearance of the illegal map in DJI Fly, an app for drone operators developed by DJI Technology Co., Ltd headquartered in Guangdong with manufacturing facilities throughout the world.

The map appears on DJI Fly, which is compatible with DJI Mini 2, Mavic Air 2, and Mavic Mini aircraft, for both iOS and Android.

“This is the first time I see the map on DJI Fly app,” Quang Nobi said.

Hung Phong, a DJI user in Thanh Xuan district, Hanoi, said the app containing illegal map has been available over the last two or three days.

After the incident found, a number of netizens have made one-star reviews and comments protesting the app on App Store and Play Store.

A Facebook group of flycam users has shared photos of one-star reviews for DJI on Play Store to warn Google.

DJI Fly’s latest version 1.2 was released on November 5. The app has more than one million downloads.

DJI Technology Co., Ltd provides no legend on this platform or map provider.

 Vietnamese netizens protest the app. Source: Zingnews

Controversies

A report released in July 2020 by the US-based cybersecurity organization Grimm and France-based Synacktiv showed that the application contains a self-update feature that bypasses the Google Play store.

The Chinese company is the dominant market leader in the civilian drone industry, accounting for around 70% of the world's consumer drone market as of March 2020.

According to the New York Times, many US government institutions including the US Army have issued statements discouraging their internal use of DJI products for security reasons.

In January 2020, the US Department of the Interior announced that it would be grounding around 800 DJI drones over security concerns which it had been using for wildlife conservation and infrastructure monitoring purposes.

In October 2020, the US Department of Justice prohibited the use of federal money to purchase DJI products.

In November 2020, senators Chris Coons, Rick Scott, and others criticized a decision by the US Air Force to purchase DJI drones on security grounds.

 A photo surfaces on the Internet showing the ‘nine-dash line’ depicted on a map used in the default navigation app of a Volkswagen car on display at The Vietnam Motor Show 2019. Photo: Tuoitre

Vietnam’s response

The nine-dash line is a representation of China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea. The line itself is a collection of arbitrary dashes or dots without specific coordinates. China has not given any official explanations regarding its precise delimitation or legal origin.

This claim has been openly rejected by Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the US, and has been criticized by numerous international scholars. More importantly, the claim to historic waters within the line was rejected by the arbitral award of the South China Sea tribunal in July 2016. But China has disregarded the ruling and insists on the nine-dash line claim.

In 2019, some cases relating to the availability of the illegal map were detected in some products imported or temporarily imported into Vietnam. The goods was then confiscated and the involvers were fined for violations.

In November 2019, VW Vietnam Auto Co. faced a monetary penalty while World Auto Co. was suspended from operating for six to nine months for showcasing a car with a navigation app reflecting Chinese territorial claims – the nine-dash line, the General Department of Vietnam Customs said in a statement on its website.

The model, a Touareg CR745J, was displayed at a motor show in Ho Chi Minh City in October 2019. The distributor’s general director as saying the vehicle was showcased due to carelessness on its part.

In October 2019, Vietnam pulled DreamWorks’ animated film “Abominable” from cinemas over a scene featuring a map which shows China's unilaterally declared “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea.

There were also calls for a DreamWorks boycott in the Philippines and the movie was withdrawn from a scheduled debut in Malaysia.

Early 2020, the government of Vietnam released a decree supplementing the punishment of activities relating to the illicit map that harms the Vietnamese sovereignty. Any violated importer would have its license revoked if vehicles have navigation app containing the nine-dash line.