Legislation would give Commerce Department authority – in conjunction with intelligence, law enforcement, financial officials – to take steps to mitigate threats from tech beholden to the Chinese Communist Party, other authoritarian regimes
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), and John Thune (R-SD) led a group of 12 bipartisan senators in introducing the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act, legislation that will comprehensively address the ongoing threat posed by technology from foreign adversaries by better empowering the Department of Commerce to review, prevent, and mitigate information and communications technology transactions that pose undue risk to our national security. The bill is supported by the White House.
“China’s brazen incursion of our airspace with a sophisticated spy balloon was only the most recent and highly visible example of its aggressive surveillance that has targeted our country for years. Through hardware exports, malicious software, and other clandestine means, China has sought to steal information in an attempt to gain a military and economic edge,” said Senator Collins. “Rather than taking a piecemeal approach to these hostile acts and reacting to each threat individually, our legislation would create a wholistic, government-wide response to proactively defend against surveillance attempts by China and other adversaries. This will directly improve our national security as well as safeguard Americans’ personal information and our nation’s vital intellectual property.”
“Today, the threat that everyone is talking about is TikTok, and how it could enable surveillance by the Chinese Communist Party, or facilitate the spread of malign influence campaigns in the U.S. Before TikTok, however, it was Huawei and ZTE, which threatened our nation’s telecommunications networks. And before that, it was Russia’s Kaspersky Lab, which threatened the security of government and corporate devices,” said Senator Warner. “We need a comprehensive, risk-based approach that proactively tackles sources of potentially dangerous technology before they gain a foothold in America, so we aren’t playing Whac-A-Mole and scrambling to catch up once they’re already ubiquitous.”
“Congress needs to stop taking a piecemeal approach when it comes to technology from adversarial nations that pose national security risks,” said Senator Thune. “Our country needs a process in place to address these risks, which is why I’m pleased to work with Senator Warner to establish a holistic, methodical approach to address the threats posed by technology platforms – like TikTok – from foreign adversaries. This bipartisan legislation would take a necessary step to ensure consumers’ information and our communications technology infrastructure is secure.”
The RESTRICT Act establishes a risk-based process, tailored to the rapidly changing technology and threat environment, by directing the Department of Commerce to identify and mitigate foreign threats to information and communications technology products and services.
In addition to Senators Collins, Warner, and Thune, the legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Mitt Romney (R-UT).
The Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act would:
A two-page summary of the bill is available here. A copy of the bill text is available here.