A bipartisan group in the House introduced a bill Wednesday to protect against state-sponsored intellectual property and supply chain threats, and create a new White House office tasked with securing emerging technologies.
Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Jim Himes (D-Conn.) sponsored the legislation, which would establish the Office of Critical Technologies & Security to better coordinate programs to deter state-sponsored IP theft and technology risks, specifically poised by China.
“We have long suspected Beijing uses its telecom companies to spy on Americans and we know China is responsible for up to $600 billion in theft of U.S. trade secrets. It’s time to get our ducks in a row: we need a coordinated, dedicated team armed with a long-term plan to ensure America maintains superiority,” Ruppersberger said in a statement.
The bill specifically points to the threat of IP theft posed by China, and the national security risks posed by technology companies ZTE and Huawei. Both companies have been the subject of congressional debate on whether to pass legislation banning American companies from purchasing products believed to create significant supply chain risks.
“China’s coordinated assault on American companies, the U.S. government and American intellectual property is part of a broader strategy aimed at attaining leadership in advanced technology and 21st century great power politics. We must continue to hold bad actors accountable,” Hurd, a leader on the House IT subcommittee, said in a statement.
The new White House office would serve as a coordinator for programs to combat national security threats to U.S. technology programs, while also bringing together federal regulators and industry to discuss supply chain security measures.
Under the bill, the Office of Critical Technologies & Security would be tasked with forming a long-term strategic plan for combatting state-sponsored technology theft.
“Through the establishment of this office, we will not only increase our capacity to respond to Chinese aggression, but also signal to geopolitical rivals around the world that we will fiercely defend our national security, technology and intellectual property. This step is long overdue and will hopefully move us further toward a comprehensive cyber strategy,” Himes said in a statement.
This is companion legislation to a bipartisan bill Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced in the Senate on Jan. 4.
Rubio has previously voiced concern that a ZTE ban was not included in the most recent defense authorization bill (Defense Daily, Aug. 2018).