UK should be concerned about Chinese DNA data collection, lawmaker says – .

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UK should be concerned about Chinese DNA data collection, lawmaker says – .


  • Reuters special report revealed links to Chinese military
  • Senior lawmaker Tugendhat sanctioned by China
  • BGI says it takes data protection and privacy seriously

LONDON, July 22 (Reuters) – Britain should be concerned about a Chinese company collecting genetic data on millions of women through prenatal testing, a senior British lawmaker told Reuters.

A Reuters review of scientific articles and company statements found that the BGI group developed the tests in collaboration with the Chinese military and uses them to collect genetic data around the world for research on the traits of the populations.

“I am always concerned when data leaves the UK that it is treated with the respect and confidentiality we would expect here at home, and the concern that raises is that it may not be. Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the British parliament’s foreign affairs select committee, told Reuters.

“The links between Chinese genomics companies and the Chinese military are not what we would normally expect in the UK or even many other countries. “

The privacy policy of the Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) website, sold under the brand name NIFTY in Britain, states that the data collected may be shared when it is “directly relevant to national security or defense. national ”in China.

BGI claims it has never shared data for national security purposes and has never been asked to do so. Read more

The logo of Chinese gene company BGI Group can be seen in its building in Beijing, China on March 25, 2021. REUTERS / Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The company said it fully complies with EU GDPR data protection rules and also has UK certification for managing personal information.

“The BGI NIPT test was developed solely by BGI – not in partnership with the Chinese military. All NIPT data collected overseas is stored in BGI’s laboratories in Hong Kong and is destroyed after five years, ”he said in an email to Reuters, adding that protection of data had to be done. data, privacy and ethics extremely seriously.

Tugendhat is one of nine British lawmakers who have been sanctioned by China for exposing alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang, which Beijing calls “lies and disinformation.” Read more

He co-heads the China Research Group, a group of conservative lawmakers seeking to rebalance the strategic relationship with China.

He said all UK companies using the tests should be clear about where the data is going, who has it and what access others, including other governments, would have to it.

“Unless a company has done so, I think it’s perfectly reasonable that the British are extremely concerned about these connections,” he said.

Reporting by Alistair Smout in London, additional reporting by Kirsty Needham in Sydney; Editing by Kate Holton and Pravin Char

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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