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US Intel Officials Worry Little-Known Tech Firm Could Hand Americans’ Genetic Data To China

  United States intelligence officials are fearful that an Abu Dhabi technology firm could hand over Americans’ genetic data to China, The N...

 United States intelligence officials are fearful that an Abu Dhabi technology firm could hand over Americans’ genetic data to China, The New York Times reported on Monday.

The company, called G42, engages in business with Chinese companies, according to the NYT. It may function as a bridge for China’s government to access cutting-edge U.S. tech and millions of Americans’ genetic data, two officials with knowledge of intelligence reports told the NYT. 

G42 consists of various ventures, including a $10 billion tech investment fund, an Arabic artificial intelligence (AI) model and a genome-sequencing initiative, according to the NYT. Its international investments include acquiring over $100 million worth of shares in ByteDance, the Beijing-based TikTok parent company, Bloomberg reported.

ByteDance maintains an internal Chinese Communist Party committee, and the company’s personnel utilized TikTok data to track American journalists reporting on the popular app in 2022, Forbes reported.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) created a classified profile of G42 CEO Peng Xiao, who received his education in the United States but renounced his citizenship in exchange for a United Arab Emirates one, intelligence officials asserted, according to the NYT.

Xiao managed a UAE company called Pax AI, which had involvement in overseeing a social media platform named ToTok that U.S. intelligence agencies flagged as a surveillance tool the UAE government utilized to monitor users’ movement and discussions, according to the NYT. A 2019 U.S. intelligence evaluation revealed that Pax AI held the collected data.

Xiao also had a project called Pegasus that entered into a contract with Chinese tech giant Huawei to produce spying tech designed for law enforcement agencies in 2017, according to the NYT. Intelligence agencies have looked into G42 subsidiary Presight AI, which specializes in selling surveillance tech to global law enforcement agencies, offering software that closely resembles products that Chinese police forces commonly use.

Huawei also assisted in constructing G42’s technology infrastructure, according to the NYT

G42 has collaborated “with various international technology players from around the world,” Senior Executive Talal Al Kaissi told the NYT, mentioning the company’s talks with Microsoft in late 2022 and its exploration of working with U.S. firms like Cerebras and Nvidia to upgrade from hardware from China.

G42 has also partnered with OpenAI, the company behind popular AI chatbot ChatGPT, according to an October press release.

“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 stated in the press release. “This collaboration lays the foundation for equitable advancements in generative AI across the globe.”

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