RELEASE: Gottheimer Calls For FBI Investigation into 23andMe Data Breach

Jan 11, 2024
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, January 11, 2024, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) is urging Federal Bureau of Investigations Director Christopher A. Wray to launch an investigation into the recent data breach at 23andMe, a popular genetic testing service, to determine if the compromised data could be exploited to target the Jewish community. 

The hackers gained access to sensitive personal information — including geographic location, birth year, family lineage and photos — of roughly 6.9 million people. In October, the hackers disclosed their targeted focus on Jewish users by posting a purchase catalog of approximately one million Ashkenazi Jewish users, representing 17.2 percent of the American Jewish population, and 6.6 percent of the global Jewish population.

“I am concerned that the leaked data could empower Hamas, their supporters, and various international extremist groups to target the American Jewish population and their families. The threat of violent domestic extremism poses a significant danger to America’s Jewish community,” said Congressman Gottheimer (NJ-5) in the letter to Federal Bureau of Investigations Director Christopher A. Wray“History tells us that when extremists threaten genocide against Jews, we should take them seriously and take swift and robust actions to prevent such atrocities. I urge the FBI to investigate 23andMe’s data breach to protect the information, locations, and lives of the American Jewish population.”

Full text of the letter can be found here and below:

January 11, 2024

Christopher A. Wray

Director

Federal Bureau of Investigations

J. Edgar Hoover Building

939 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, DC 20535

Dear Director Wray,

I am writing to request an investigation into the recent data breach at 23andMe, a popular genetic testing service, to determine if the compromised data could be exploited to target the Jewish community. The hackers gained access to sensitive personal information — including geographic location, birth year, family lineage and photos — of roughly 6.9 million people. In October, the hackers disclosed their targeted focus on Jewish users by posting a purchase catalog of approximately one million Ashkenazi Jewish users, representing 17.2 percent of the American Jewish population and 6.6 percent of the global Jewish population. I am deeply concerned that this data could be purchased by nefarious actors who seek to harm Jewish people solely based on their heritage or religion, both in the United States and globally. 

Since October 7, when Hamas terrorists attacked Israel and brutally murdered, raped, burned alive, decapitated, and kidnapped more than 1,200 innocent babies, children, men, women, and elderly, including Americans, antisemitic acts and violence have been increasing precipitously across the country and the world. Recently, you acknowledged that antisemitism in the United States is reaching “historic levels,” and said now is time for “vigilance.” A study published by the Anti-Defamation League revealed that there was a staggering 388 percent increase in antisemitic incidents in the weeks following the October 7 terrorist attacks. Giving antisemites the ability to identify populations and individuals heightens the risk of attacks on Jewish communities in the United States and worldwide.

Hamas’ terrorist attack against Israel has only encouraged additional organizations and terrorist groups to express louder and clearer their desire and intention to eradicate the Jewish population from the face of the earth. Hamas leaders have admitted, in reference to the October 7 attacks, that, “There will be a second, a third, a fourth” wave of violence in Israel. Hamas’ charter proudly calls for jihad against Jews and states that, “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.” Hamas officials have prayed for Allah to, “Grant victory to the fighters in Palestine, guide their strikes to the throats of Jews, make their legs steady and let them stab a knife through [their] hearts.” Hamas, an Iranian funded and supported proxy terrorist group, operates summer camps for children to learn the skills they view as necessary to commit terrorist attacks against Jews, Israelis and other nationals. Almost exactly a week after October 7, Hamas and their supporters called for global supporters to wage a “Day of Rage” against the Jewish people. 

I am concerned that the leaked data could empower Hamas, their supporters, and various international extremist groups to target the American Jewish population and their families. The threat of violent domestic extremism poses a significant danger to America’s Jewish community. In 2020, the Department of Homeland Security produced its first homeland threat assessment, in which former acting Secretary Chad Wolf stated that he was “particularly concerned about white supremacist violent extremists who have been exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent, targeted attacks in recent years.” 

History tells us that when extremists threaten genocide against Jews, we should take them seriously and take swift and robust actions to prevent such atrocities. Executive Order 12333, Presidential Policy Directive 41, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) charges the FBI with protecting American human security by investigating cyber crime. I urge the FBI to investigate 23andMe’s data breach to protect the information, locations, and lives of the American Jewish population. Thank you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Josh Gottheimer

MEMBER OF CONGRESS

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