Legislators Concerned by Commerce Department Deal with UAE AI Company

Chairs of congressional committees say the company’s previous ties to Beijing could leak technologies to China.

Federal legislators are wary of a recent investment deal crafted by the Commerce Department for a technology company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Last month, the Commerce Department brokered a $1.5 billion deal of exclusivity with artificial intelligence (AI) company G42, which is developing an AI model for the Arabic language, and Microsoft. At the time, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo promoted the deal as a way to keep the company away from China. 

However, members of the Senate Intelligence and House Foreign Affairs Committees have raised concerns after learning that G42 had previous partnerships with Chinese companies. The senators say that though the deal may close off G42’s formal connections with China, it could open up back-door access for Chinese espionage teams to pilfer other American technologies.

“American innovation and American values should be leading the world, and deals like this are one of the ways we accomplish that,” Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the chair of the Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. “At the same time, we have to make sure any agreement is structured in a way that protects the crown jewels of our intellectual property.”

“Despite the significant national security implications, Congress still has not received a comprehensive briefing from the executive branch about this agreement,” Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “I am concerned the right guardrails are not in place to protect sensitive U.S.-origin technology from Chinese espionage given the (Chinese Communist Party’s) interests in the UAE.”

As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…

  • For discernment for senators and representatives as they review and assess the national security and technological risks of the deal between Microsoft and the UAE company.
  • For Secretary Raimondo to seek the Lord for guidance as she heads the Commerce Department.

Sources: Politico, Reuters


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