The sheriff of Los Angeles County said that he and other county officials had received a warning from the FBI about a local company likely sharing Americans’ private health information with the Chinese government.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that the warning involves a genetics testing company that benefits from federal contracts worth millions of dollars. Chinese-American billionaire Ming Hsieh founded the California company Fulgent Genetics, and the FBI’s warning involves “very concerning information” about employee data that it collects.
China has reportedly collected genetic samples from Muslim Uyghurs to monitor the repressed group thought to be subjected to forced labor for Chinese manufacturing interests. China is also alleged to be collecting genetic data worldwide to develop various medical products and processes.
Villanueva asked Los Angeles County to cancel COVID-19 testing and tracking contracts with Fulgent. It is unclear whether the company is alleged to provide genetic data with the Chinese government for profit or comply with Chinese law.
Fulgent issued a statement claiming that it “does not share personal data of any kind with the Chinese government.” The company claims the FBI has not approached it.
Fulgent has contracts with California hospitals and government agencies operating in the state to collect health and genetic data. It has government contracts that specifically require the company to perform genetic testing on military personnel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded a contract to Fulgent this year to sequence variants of the coronavirus.
The firm also provides COVID testing for government school districts and health agencies in New York, Nevada, Utah, and Texas.
Senate Intelligence Committee member Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said that because of decades of attempts to “steal the intellectual property and personal health information of Americans,” no taxpayer funds should go to any company putting private records “at risk.”