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China may get Americans’ genetic data from tech firm: Report

China flag. (Unsplash)
November 28, 2023

A new report indicates that United States intelligence officials are concerned that an Abu Dhabi technology company could give China the genetic data of American citizens.

The New York Times reported Monday that two officials with information on intelligence reports warned that an Abu Dhabi technology company called G42 conducts business with Chinese companies and may enable the Chinese government to access the genetic information of millions of Americans, as well as advanced U.S. technology.

According to The New York Times, G42 includes multiple investments, including a genome-sequencing initiative, a $10 billion investment fund in technology, and an Arabic artificial intelligence platform.

Bloomberg reported that the company has acquired over $100 million in ByteDance shares, which is the TikTok parent company based in in Beijing. The Daily Caller reported that ByteDance has a Chinese Communist Party committee. According to Forbes, ByteDance’s employees used information obtained on TikTok to track American journalists who were reporting on the social media platform’s app last year.

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According to The Daily Caller, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) developed a classified profile of Peng Xiao, G42’s CEO. Intelligence officials told The New York Times that Xiao was educated in the United States before renouncing his citizenship in favor of citizenship with the United Arab Emirates.

The New York Times reported that Xiao formerly managed Pax AI, a United Arab Emirates company, which oversaw a social media platform called ToTok. U.S. intelligence agencies flagged the ToTok social media platform as a surveillance service for the United Arab Emirates that was used to monitor the discussions and movements of social media users.

The New York Times also noted that Xiao formerly had a project in 2017 named Pegasus that worked with Huawei, a Chinese technology company, to develop spy technology for law enforcement organizations. The outlet added that intelligence agencies had examined the G42 subsidiary, Presight AI, which sells surveillance technology to law enforcement agencies across the globe that uses software similar to the software used by Chinese police.

G42 has worked “with various international technology players from around the world,” Talal Al Kaissi, a senior executive, told the NYT. Kaissi pointed to the company’s discussions with Microsoft in 2022, as well as potential partnerships with Cerebras and Nvidia in the U.S.

According to an October press release, G42 has also partnered with OpenAI, which is the company that manages the artificial intelligence platform known as ChatGPT.

“Leveraging G42’s industry expertise, we aim to empower businesses and communities with effective solutions that resonate with the nuances of the region,” OpenAI CEO Sam Altman wrote in the press release. “This collaboration lays the foundation for equitable advancements in generative AI across the globe.”