U.S. launches ‘disruptive technology’ strike force to target national security threats By Reuters2 min read
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco visits the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in honor of National Police Week in Washington, U.S., May 13, 2022. Bonnie Cash/Pool via REUTERS
By Sarah N. Lynch
(Reuters) – A top U.S. law enforcement official on Thursday unveiled a new “disruptive technology strike force” tasked with safe-guarding American technology from foreign adversaries and other national security threats.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, the No. 2 official at the U.S. Justice Department, announced the new strike force at a speech in London at Chatham House.
The initiative, she said, will be a joint effort between the U.S. Justice and Commerce departments, with a goal of blocking adversaries from “trying to siphon our best technology,” she said in prepared remarks.
“We will use intelligence and data analytics to target illicit actors, enhance public-private partnerships to harden supply chains, and identify early warning of threats to our critical assets, like semiconductors,” Monaco said.
The Justice Department in recent years has increasingly focused its efforts on bringing criminal cases to protect corporate intellectual property, U.S. supply chains and private data about Americans from foreign adversaries, either through cyber attacks, theft or sanctions evasion.
Law enforcement officials have repeatedly said that China by far remains the biggest threat to America’s technological innovation and economic security – a view that Monaco reiterated again on Thursday.
“China’s doctrine of ‘civil-military fusion’ means that any advance by a Chinese company with military application must be shared with the state,” Monaco said in prepared remarks on Thursday.
“So if a company operating in China collects your data, it is a good bet that the Chinese government is accessing it.”
During the Trump administration, the Justice Department created a “China initiative” tasked with combating Chinese espionage and intellectual property theft.
The Biden Justice Department later scrapped the name and re-focused the initiative amid criticism it was fueling racism by targeting professors at U.S. universities over whether they disclosed financial ties to China.
However, the department did not back away from continuing to pursue national security cases involving China and its alleged efforts to steal intellectual property or other American data.
Last fall, meanwhile, the Commerce Department also imposed new export controls on advanced computing and semiconductor components, in a maneuver designed to prevent China from acquiring certain chips.
Monaco said on Thursday that the United States “must also pay attention to how our adversaries can use private investments in their companies to develop the most sensitive technologies, to fuel their drive for a military and national security edge.”
She noted the Biden administration is “exploring how to monitor the flow of private capital in critical sectors” to ensure it “doesn’t provide our adversaries with a national security advantage.”
Last year, a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers called on President Joe Biden to issue an executive order to boost oversight of investments by U.S. companies and individuals in China and other countries.