As the US warned allies around the world that Chinese tech giant Huawei was a security threat, the FBI was making the same point quietly to a Midwestern university. In an email to the associate vice chancellor for research at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, an agent wanted to know if administrators believed Huawei had stolen any intellectual property from the school. Told no, the agent responded: "I assumed those would be your answers, but I had to ask." It was no random query, the AP reports. The FBI has been reaching out to colleges and universities across the country as it tries to stem what American authorities portray as the wholesale theft of technology and trade secrets by researchers tapped by China.
The breadth and intensity of the campaign emerges in emails the AP obtained through records requests to public universities in 50 states. The emails underscore the extent of US concerns that universities, as recruiters of foreign talent and incubators of cutting-edge research, are particularly vulnerable targets. Agents have lectured at seminars, briefed administrators in campus meetings, and distributed pamphlets with cautionary tales of trade secret theft. In the past two years, they've requested the emails of two University of Washington researchers, asked Oklahoma State University if it has scientists in specific areas, and sought updates about "possible misuse" of research funds by a University of Colorado Boulder professor, the messages show. Click for the full article.
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