China threatens data sovereignty, says Britain’s spy chief

Britain’s spy chief on Tuesday warned of the threat to data sovereignty posed by China’s “debt traps and data traps.”

Richard Moore, boss of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency MI6, said on BBC Radio 4’s Today program that Beijing is “trying to use influence through its economic policies to try and sometimes, I think, get people on the hook.”

On the subject of data, Moore added, “If you allow another country to gain access to really critical data about your society, over time that will erode your sovereignty, you no longer have control over that data.” He said the U.K. had taken “measures” to defend against the danger.

The warnings come ahead of Moore’s first major public speech since becoming head of MI6. In the speech, Moore will say it is important for him to address digital issues in a modern democracy, as technological threats are “growing exponentially.”

On the chaotic withdrawal of allied Western troops from Afghanistan in August, Moore acknowledged intelligence agencies didn’t accurately assess the speed at which the Taliban would seize control of Kabul. But he refused to describe it as an “intelligence failure.”

Moore said he was now concerned that the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan will be a “morale boost for extremists around the world, and indeed for those sitting in the capitals in Beijing, Tehran, and Moscow.”

On Russia, Moore said he sees it as an “acute threat” and the Ukraine border situation bears “very careful watching.”

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