Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, cosponsored legislation authored by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) to help combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors like China. This bipartisan legislation would create an Office of Critical Technologies & Security at the White House responsible for coordinating across agencies and developing a long-term, whole-of-government strategy to protect against state-sponsored technology theft and risks to critical supply chains. The bipartisan legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Chris Coons (D-DE).
Companion legislation was also introduced in the House of Representatives on January 16 by Congressmen C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Mike Conaway (R-TX), Jim Himes (D-CT), and Will Hurd (R-TX).
“China’s theft of critical U.S. technologies and increased efforts to expand into our telecommunications market pose as serious threats to our national security and to consumers,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan bill would ensure greater coordination and cooperation between government at the federal and state levels, as well as with nongovernmental experts and the private sector, to develop a long-term strategy on combatting foreign attempts to acquire U.S. technologies.”
China and other nations are currently attempting to achieve technological and economic superiority over the United States through the aggressive use of state-directed or -supported technology transfers. At the same time, the U.S. is also facing major challenges to the integrity of key supply chains as a result of reliance on foreign products that have been identified as national security risks. A national response to combat these threats and ensure our national security has, to date, been hampered by insufficient coordination at the federal level.
The Warner-Rubio bill would guarantee that there is a federal entity responsible for proactively coordinating interagency efforts and developing a national strategy to deal with these challenges to our national security and long-term technological competitiveness. Under the bill, the Office of Critical Technologies & Security would be directed to coordinate and consult with federal and state tech and telecom regulators, the private sector, nongovernmental experts and academic stakeholders, and key international partners and U.S. allies to ensure that every available tool is being utilized to safeguard the supply chain and protect emerging, foundational and dual-use technologies. The Office would also be responsible for raising awareness of these threats and improving the overall education of the American public and business leaders in key sectors about the threats to U.S. national security posed by the improper acquisition and transfer of critical technologies by foreign countries and reliance on foreign products – such as those manufactured by Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei – that jeopardize the overall security of private sector supply chains.
In September, Senator Collins and a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the ZTE Enforcement Review and Oversight (ZERO) Act, legislation that would enforce full compliance by ZTE—a Chinese state-directed telecommunications firm that repeatedly violated U.S. laws—with all probationary conditions in the Commerce Department’s deal.
For a copy of the bill text, click here.