US Intelligence warns of National security risk due to Chinese collecting health data of Americans

Washington, Feb 2 (Agency) The United States’ National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) has issued a warning regarding the risks posed to privacy of American citizens and national security of the country due to China collecting genomic and other health care data of Americans. In a fact sheet published today, the NCSC said, “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 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 U.S.”.

The agency said that China collects data in enormous amounts as it views bulk personal information, including health care and genomic data, as a “strategic commodity to be collected and used for its economic and national security. Beijing, the document asserts, has been collecting US health care data for years, both through partnerships with hospitals, universities, and other research organizations and through cyber intrusions. Along with immediate privacy risks, the counterintelligence agency warned about “long-term economic challenges for the United States” stemming from China’s collection of the sensitive data. “The PRC’s acquisition of U.S. healthcare data is helping to fuel China’s Artificial Intelligence and precision medicine industries, while the PRC severely restricts U.S. and other foreign access to such data from China … Over time, this dynamic could allow China to outpace U.S. biotech firms with important new drugs and health treatments and potentially displace American firms as global biotech leaders,” the document said.

As a result, the US “could be left more dependent on Chinese innovation and drug development for its cures, leading to a transfer of wealth, co-opting of new businesses and greater job opportunities in China,” the counterintelligence experts believe. The US agency also expressed concerns that China used the pandemic to market its COVID-19 testing kits across the world and open labs in many countries.