The Five Eyes talk tech and China

The heads of US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand security agencies (the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance) have met in Silicon Valley this week.

And the venue wasn’t coincidental: the spy chiefs say they’re focussed on the “unprecedented threat” China’s espionage poses to the tech world, like:

  • seeking to obtain intel and IP in the advanced tech sector, and
  • targeting state infrastructure as well as private enterprises.

It’s the first time the Five Eyes chiefs have appeared together in public, but it’s not the first time they’ve identified China’s hacking as a threat.

And this time around, they really didn’t mince their words:

  • 🇦🇺 Australia’s Mike Burgess said China “is engaged in the most sustained, scaled and sophisticated theft of intellectual property and expertise in human history”, and
  • 🇺🇸 FBI Director Christopher Wray said China has “a bigger hacking program than that of every other major nation combined.

Intrigue’s take: Why are Western spy chiefs increasingly coming out of the shadows like this? Four main reasons:

  1. To maintain their social licence (damaged after various leaks)
  2. To put adversaries on notice (i.e., “we see you, back off”)
  3. To shape the global conversation (who’s provoking who?), and
  4. To prepare the public for volatile times ahead (a former NSA chief just said cyber attacks are edging towards warfare territory).
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