China has stolen more US data ‘than every other nation combined’: FBI head

Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, right, speaks during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing at the Capitol in Washington, November 15, 2022. (AP photo)

Christopher Wray, the director of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), on Tuesday told a US House committee hearing that China has stolen more American data and information "than every other nation combined".

In his speech at the annual ‘worldwide threats’ hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, Wray said China's hacking program is the largest in the world and that they have stolen more personal and business information from Americans than any other country.

The director, who served as an assistant attorney general under former President George W. Bush, said the United States has national security concerns about China. These security concerns include the possibility that the Chinese government could control data collection on millions of users or control recommendation algorithms, which could be used to hack or control software on millions of devices.

Wray said there are still many unresolved questions about data sharing between Chinese companies and the Beijing government. He said some concerns are about what is happening and what is actually being done.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and National Anti-Terrorism Director Christine Abizaid were also present at Tuesday's meeting and testified.

The FBI director's comments on Tuesday came just a day after US President Biden met with the Chinese leader Xi Jinping as officials tried to repair damaged ties between the two countries. In the meeting, issues such as the war in Ukraine, tensions in the Taiwan Strait and North Korea's missile tests were discussed.

Certain branches of the US government, including the army, previously asked their workers not to install certain software, including Tik Tok, on their phones. TikTok, one of the most popular apps in the world, has more than 1 billion users (as of September 2021), and Silicon Valley CEOs are trying to figure out how to compete with the Beijing-based company.

Friction between Washington and Beijing has been deepening in recent months, especially over what China calls the US interference in the affairs of Taiwan, a self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own.

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