(WASHINGTON) — China has stolen more of Americans business and personal data than all other countries put together, FBI Director Christopher Wray told a House committee Tuesday.
“China’s vast hacking program is the world’s largest and they have stolen more Americans personal and business data than every other nation combined,” Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee.
Wray testified along with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Christine Abizaid, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, at the annual “Worldwide Threats” hearing.
The FBI director said the U.S. has concerns with China based app TikTok and its parent company ByteDance, which has been under scrutiny of U.S. regulators. The head of the Federal Trade Commission has said the app should be banned.
“I would say we do have national security concern,” Wray told Rep. Diana Harshberger, R-Tenn. “They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use to control data collection on millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so chose or to control software on millions of devices, which gives the opportunity to potentially tactically compromised personal devices,” he said.
“So, there’s a number of concerns there as to what is actually happening and actually being done,” Wray said, adding there are questions about how data sharing works in China with companies required by Chinese law to share data with the government.
Mayorkas also cited concerns about China.
“China’s using its technology to tilt the global playing field to its benefit,” he said.
Bomb threats to HBCUs
The hearing also touched on bomb threats to HBCUs around the country, domestic violent extremists, and the southern border.
Wray said the bomb threats against HBCU’s are “unacceptable” and said a single actor is responsible for the bomb threats that were called in.
“With respect for the first big tranche, investigation has identified an underage, a juvenile subject and because of the federal limitations on charging juveniles with federal crimes, we have worked with state prosecutors to ensure that that Indvidual is charged under other various state offenses which will ensure some sort of restrictions and monitoring and disruption of his criminal behavior. “
Throughout the spring, Historically Black Colleges and Universities saw bomb threats almost daily.
Political violence, threats against law enforcement
The law enforcement leaders were asked about the attack against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, and the leaders said there is a disturbing trend in targeting government officials and law enforcement.
“We have seen a trend over the last several years of people more and more in this country when they’re upset or angry about something turning to violence as the way to manifest it. And that is a very, very dangerous trend,” Wray said.
“There is a right way under the First Amendment to express how angry and upset you are about something or with somebody but violence, violence against government officials is not it but that is something that we’ve been seeing across the political spectrum now for quite a number of years,” he said.
The two leaders said increasing violence against law enforcement is also dangerous with Mayorkas noting more law enforcement have been ambushed than ever.
Both leaders agreed that domestic violent extremists pose the most significant threat to the United States.
Along the southern border, which has been a focus of GOP attacks against the Biden administration, the FBI director said the border has a lot of “complex threats” that it is facing. He said there has been an “increase” in the known or suspected terrorists apprehended along the border. Rep. Mike McCaul said there were 98 known or suspected terrorists apprehended along the southern border in the past fiscal year.
According to a senior DHS official, encounters of known and suspected terrorists attempting to cross the Southern Border are very uncommon. These encounters represent significantly less than 0.01 percent of total encounters per fiscal year in recent years.
Mayorkas said they are “taking it to” the human smugglers and cartel organizations along the southern border, touting the Department’s work in a new program they rolled out earlier this year.
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