Krach: 'We're creating a national security movement'

Purdue alum and Krach Institute co-founder Keith Krach and President Mung Chiang laugh and discuss technology during a talk Thursday.

Purdue President Mung Chiang hosted a talk Thursday surrounding the use of technology in national defense with Keith Krach.

Krach, a Purdue alum and former State Department undersecretary in the Trump administration, founded the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy in 2022 with Chiang to “work with the federal government to protect the free world,” Krach said.

A non-profit under the Purdue Research Foundation, the institute seeks to research ways that technology can be used for national security against what Krach called “authoritarian rivals,” such as China, Iran and Russia.

“The purpose (of the institute) is to make sure freedom is secure from technologically advanced authoritarian regimes,” said Lev Khodorkovsky, a communications fellow at the institute. “Basically, making sure the way technology is innovated is in keeping with democratic values, like respect for the rule of law and respect for property.”

Khodorkovsky said things such as surveillance drones, security cameras and social media such as Tik Tok can be used by foreign governments to restrict freedom abroad and should be fought against to maintain democracy.

During the talk, Krach spoke about the importance of using technology to protect the interests of American companies, which he said is under constant threat globally because “rival countries refuse to play by the rules” by stealing intellectual property and “cracking down on the private sector.”

“We are doing our part by utilizing the resources of the private sector to protect freedom,” he told Chiang. “We’re creating a national security movement, because freedom doesn’t come for free.”

In 2022, the institute had a large role in authoring the CHIPS and Science Act, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden allocating $280 billion to boost production of semiconductors in the United States. Krach said semiconductors are a main component of technology that could threaten national security, and the bill was created to counter economic rivals such as China.

Krach said the institute has identified China as the largest threat to national security, because of it “hounding” developing countries and threatening American business interests. Because of this, the institute is developing a “China contingency plan” to present to the federal government.

Krach called on Purdue students and faculty to consider joining the institute, which he said is the best way to “leverage the gene pool of talent” at Purdue to serve the United States. Anyone interested can sign up on the institute's website.

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