As relations between Washington and Beijing continue to deteriorate, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) has issued a warning against the efforts undertaken by the Chinese Communist Party to get hold of US health data, especially DNA, through hacking has intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For years, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has collected large healthcare data sets from the U.S. and nations around the globe, through both legal and illegal means, for purposes only it can control,” the NCSC wrote in a fact sheet as quoted by The Hill.
“The PRC’s collection of healthcare data from America poses equally serious risks, not only to the privacy of Americans but also to the economic and national security of the US,” the NCSC further added.
According to the US Intelligence Community, China has stepped up its efforts while the US was embroiled in dealing with an intractable contagion that had its origins in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. The report claims that Chinese biotech group BGI offering COVID-19 testing kits to a large number of countries and setting up 18 testing labs in the past six months alone, allegedly was a part of China’s efforts to obtain health data.
The NCSC pointed out that the US health data was an attractive target for the Chinese government as it offered a diversity of the population and because of the country’s relatively lenient safeguards on personal data.
“The PRC understands the collection and analysis of large genomic data sets from diverse populations helps foster new medical discoveries and cures that can have substantial commercial value and advance its Artificial Intelligence and precision medicine industries,” the agency wrote.
The NCSC on Monday cautioned that the Chinese government was using the US health data to outpace the American biotech industry, which would leave the US dependent on the Chinese innovation and drug development for its cures and cause grave damage to the US job market. The agency also voiced concerns over Chinese hackers trying to gain access to US health data and research.
“China’s access to US healthcare and genomic data poses serious privacy and national security risks to the US,” said the agency, adding, “Through its cyber intrusions in recent years, the PRC has already obtained the Personal Identifying Information (PII) of much of the US population.”
Former top US counterintelligence official says CCP has already stolen 80 per cent of Americans’ personal information
Bill Evanina, who recently stepped down as the top counterintelligence official in the U.S., a veteran of both the FBI and CIA, raised alarm over the BGI’s COVID testing proposals and expressed concerns over who would ultimately get the data. In a rare public warning, Bill said, “Foreign powers can collect, store and exploit biometric information from covid tests.”
“They are the ultimate company that shows connectivity to both the communist state as well as the military apparatus,” Evanina said while talking about the BGI’s link with the Chinese Communist Party and the PLA during an appearance on CBS News’s “60 Minutes”.
He further added that there have been about five to six Chinese companies in the last five years who have successfully penetrated, hacked and exfiltrated the US health system.
“As per latest estimates, 80 per cent of American adults have had all their personally identifiable information already stolen by the Communist Party of China,” Evanina said.