(Bloomberg) –US enforcement agencies are forming a “strike force” to combat adversaries trying to steal advanced technology, hack for financial gain or use new tools to collect intelligence.
The move comes as US officials are grappling with how to respond to new threats such as the balloon they allege that China sent to collect intelligence. It was shot down off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4 after flying across the US.
The “disruptive technology strike force,” led by the Justice and Commerce departments, will use intelligence and data to help identify early threats to trade secrets and protect critical supply chains, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in prepared remarks for a speech on Thursday in London.
“Today, autocrats seek tactical advantage through the acquisition, use and abuse of disruptive technology: innovations fueling the next generation of military and national security capabilities,” Monaco said.
“The ability to weaponize data will only advance over time, as artificial intelligence and algorithms enable the use of large datasets in increasingly sophisticated ways,” she added in the remarks. “The data obtained today could be used in new and frightening ways tomorrow.”
The US and its allies nations are grappling with how to respond to emerging technological threats and tumultuous geopolitical events, ranging from spying to the exploitation of capital investments and the theft of secret software algorithms.
Monaco didn’t provide specific details on how the new strike force will be organized and what its initial efforts will include. But she said US prosecutors, agents and analysts use law enforcement tools in novel ways.
“We are disrupting cyber-attacks, enforcing sweeping sanctions, analyzing foreign investments in US businesses to detect and deter bad actors — all to protect American technology and know-how from being exploited by our adversaries,” she said. “Today, the greatest risks come not from investment in our physical assets, but from transactions where datasets, software and algorithms are the assets.”
She cited actions by the Chinese government as particularly concerning. “If a company operating in China collects your data, it is a good bet that the Chinese government is accessing it,” she said.
Monaco will speak at the independent research institute Chatham House.