China ‘Weaponizing’ Americans’ Personal Data: Expert

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China “is weaponizing [Americans’] personal information” to bolster its artificial intelligence (AI), military, and espionage capabilities, according to a cyberintelligence expert who is calling for the United States to take reciprocal action against the Chinese regime.

“We see a weakening China, which is not what they are telling the world they are [economically],” said Bob Gourley, a cyberintelligence pioneer and former chief technology officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency. “It’s going to put a lot of stress and pressure on them to find new sources of revenue.”

“These new sources of revenue are things that include exploitation of intellectual property, more ransomware, more direct theft electronically,” he told NTD earlier this month. “I see the near future as being one of a lot of dangers from Chinese surveillance.”

The surveillance used in AI helps to coordinate and correlate user data, and can be utilized to analyze and attribute details to an individual, Gourley said.

“This is a real threat when a surveillance state like China puts [its] computing power behind it.”

High-tech surveillance states can take advantage of the world’s social media data, calling it “new threats” to the world today, Gourley says. Through data that people publicly share, AI can produce a profile of what anyone has been doing, where they are, and who they associate with.

While the communist regime in China has cut access to Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube to its citizens, its officials, state-run media, and hackers can openly use and have become more active on both Twitter and Facebook, a 2021 think tank report showed.

Facebook revealed in March 2021 that it had blocked Chinese hackers from using the social media platform to track Uyghur activists living abroad, including journalists and dissidents living in the United States, Australia, Canada, Syria, Turkey, and Kazakhstan.

Some of the hackers compromised users’ devices and others created fake Facebook accounts to befriend a target and trick them into clicking on a malicious link that might compromise their device.

“If it makes us timid and afraid to speak out, it hurts us,” Gourley said. “Protecting our freedom of speech requires mitigating this threat of global surveillance from China.”

He said the United States should treat private information as if it were a weapon against China’s global surveillance over individuals.

“Because they are weaponizing our personal information.”

By Rita Li and David Zhang

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