China plans to control the world’s data

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F​​ew cases better show how U.S.-China relations have deteriorated in the age of Big Data than the response Wang Jiang got when he offered, at the height of the pandemic, to set up labs for COVID-19 testing in the U.S.

But Wang’s offer ran afoul of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, which issued a stark warning: “Foreign powers can collect, store and exploit biometric information from COVID tests.” The Trump Administration’s top U.S. counterintelligence official, Bill Evanina, later told 60 Minutes that the labs were “modern-day Trojan horses,” an effort by the Chinese government to establish a “foothold” to bring in equipment, collect DNA and start “mining your data.” No one in the U.S. took BGI up on its offer.

Evanina’s suspicions highlight a growing tension between the U.S. and China, one that is expected to get significant attention in Washington this fall. The rise of Big Data—the vast digital output of daily life, including data Google and Facebook collect from their users and convert into advertising dollars—is now a matter of national security, according to some policymakers. The fear is that China is vacuuming up data about the U.S. and its citizens not just to steal secrets from U.S. companies or to influence citizens but also to build the foundation of technological hegemony in the not-too-distant future. Data—lots of it, the more the better—has, along with the rise of artificial intelligence, taken on strategic importance.


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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!