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US Justice and Commerce Departments Announce Creation of Disruptive Technology Strike Force

Joint Venture in More Than 10 Cities Will Enforce U.S. Laws Protecting U.S. Advanced Technologies from Illegal Acquisition and Use by Nation-State Adversaries

On 16 February 2023, the US Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce have launched the Disruptive Technology Strike Force. The strike force will bring together experts throughout government – including the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and 14 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in 12 metropolitan regions across the country – to target illicit actors, strengthen supply chains and protect critical technological assets from being acquired or used by nation-state adversaries.

The purpose is to fight against the acquisition, use, and abuse of America’s most innovative technology to enhance autocracies' military capabilities and their support of mass surveillance programs that enable human rights abuses and all together undermine our values.

The Disruptive Technology Strike Force will use real-time intelligence and 21st century data analytics, to strike back against adversaries trying to siphon off US' most advanced technology and to not allow these crimes to de-stabilize American economic security, negatively impact American businesses, and affect employment.

When acquired by nation-state adversaries such as the People’s Republic of China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea, advanced technologies can be used in new or novel ways to enhance their military capabilities or support mass surveillance programs that enable human rights abuses. End users of national security concern seek technologies, including those related to supercomputing and exascale computing, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing equipment and materials, quantum computing, and biosciences. Although they have important commercial uses, technologies in these fields can threaten U.S. national security when used by adversaries for disruptive purposes, such as improving calculations in weapons design and testing; improving the speed and accuracy of military or intelligence decision-making; and breaking or developing unbreakable encryption algorithms that protect sensitive communications and classified information.

According to US officials, the US must "remain vigilant in enforcing export control laws, which defend military readiness, preserve their technological superiority over their adversaries, and help to protect human rights and democratic values.”

The strike force’s work will focus on investigating and prosecuting criminal violations of export laws; enhancing administrative enforcement of U.S. export controls; fostering partnerships with the private sector; leveraging international partnerships to coordinate law enforcement actions and disruption strategies; utilizing advanced data analytics and all-source intelligence to develop and build investigations; conducting regular trainings for field offices; and strengthening connectivity between the strike force and the Intelligence Community.

The strike force will operate in 12 metropolitan regions across the United States, with oversight and support from the local U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City (Southern and Eastern Districts of New York), San Jose, California, Phoenix, Portland, Oregon, and the Washington, D.C. region (District of Columbia and the Eastern District of Virginia).

Source: US Department of Justice - Press Release (16 February 2023)

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