DOJ, Commerce Department strike force to fight technology threats from adversaries

Justice Department
AP/Andrew Harnik
The Justice Department in Washington, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Justice and Commerce departments launched a strike force on Thursday to oppose the threats posed by technology from adversaries like Russia and China. 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a release that the Disruptive Technology Strike Force will gather experts from the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations from the Department of Homeland Security, and 14 U.S. attorneys’ offices from 12 metropolitan areas to go after illegal actors, strengthen supply chains and prevent U.S. technological assets from being acquired by adversaries. 

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, from the DOJ’s National Security Division, and Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement Matthew Axelrod, from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, will lead the strike force. 

“The Disruptive Technology Strike Force takes aim at those who imperil our national security and the rule of law by illegally transferring sensitive technologies to foreign adversaries,” Olsen said in the release. “We must remain vigilant in enforcing export control laws, which defend military readiness, preserve our technological superiority over our adversaries, and help to protect human rights and democratic values.” 

The release states the strike force will focus on investigating and prosecuting criminal violations of export laws, improving enforcement of export controls, developing relationships with the private sector, and using international partnerships to plan law enforcement activities. It will also concentrate on conducting trainings for field offices, using data and intelligence to build its investigations, and strengthening the connection between itself and the intelligence community. 

“Advances in technology have the potential to alter the world’s balance of power,” Axelrod said. “This strike force is designed to protect U.S. national security by preventing those sensitive technologies from being used for malign purposes.” 

The formation of the strike force comes in the aftermath of the discovery of a Chinese balloon that traveled across the country earlier this month. U.S. officials have said the balloon was designed for surveillance. 

Lawmakers have also expressed concerns in recent months about the security of the social media platform TikTok, which is owned by a Chinese company. 

More than two dozen states have placed bans on the app being used on state-issued devices amid concerns about users’ data being protected from access by the Chinese government. 

The app’s leaders have maintained that no data from users is shared with the Chinese Communist Party.

Tags China balloon Commerce Department Disruptive Technology Strike Force Justice Department technology threats

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