China has access to US healthcare, including genomic data: US counterintelligence report

WION Web Team
Washington Published: Feb 03, 2021, 07.59 AM(IST)

Representative image: Research technicians prepare DNA samples to be sequenced in the production lab of the New York Genome Center Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

US healthcare data may be particularly attractive and valuable to China because of the ethnic diversity of the US population, the report by US national conterintelligence and security centre said.

 According to the US national counterintelligence and security centre, Chinese companies have gained access to US healthcare data by partnering with hospitals, universities, and other research organizations in America.

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The report said that the People's Republic of China(PRC) has for years been able to gain access to US healthcare data, including genomic data, through a variety of channels, both legal and illegal, while asserting that, "People's Republic of China’s acquisition of US healthcare data is helping to fuel China’s Artificial Intelligence and precision medicine industries."

The counterintelligence agency said that China’s access to US healthcare and genomic data poses serious privacy and national security risks to the US.

The US agency said China’s access to US health and genomic data poses long term economic challenges for the United States

"US healthcare data may be particularly attractive and valuable to China because of the ethnic diversity of the US population," the report said. The US agency said Chinese authorities have an advantage since the US has fewer safeguards on medical and healthcare data, including data for research purposes.

"Over the years, Chinese companies have taken advantage of this environment by investing in US firms that handle sensitive healthcare and other types of personal data, providing them entry to the US market and access to this data," the report claimed.

According to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the COVID-19 labs have been providing Chinese researchers with access to healthcare data from around the globe since the PRC has aggressively marketed Chinese COVID-19 testing kits around the world, along with laboratories to support COVID-19 testing.

"By August 2020, China’s leading genomics company, BGI, said it had sold test kits to 180 countries and established labs in 18 countries in the past six months," the agency informed.

The report stated that the PRC views bulk personal data, including healthcare and genomic data, as a "strategic commodity" to be collected and used for its "economic and national security priorities."

The PRC is investing heavily in the “biotech revolution” and has enacted national policies prioritizing the collection of healthcare data both at home and abroad, it said.

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