Cyber criminals responsible for damaging our economy

There is a rich history over the centuries of nations spying on each other to better understand each other’s plans, intentions and capabilities. These efforts, however, have largely been focused on collecting intelligence on foreign governments and militaries, not on brazen and wide-scale theft of intellectual property from foreign commercial competitors.

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For years, the Chinese government has directed a systematic and deliberate campaign to steal as much American intellectual property as they could get their hands on. The government then gives the intellectual property to Chinese businesses, which repurpose it and sell it in the open market, taking jobs from the United States.

This is likely the largest transfer of wealth in history and is aimed to help sustain Chinese economic growth. The U.S. does not engage in economic espionage, and we cannot stand by when other nations subject our companies to this kind of theft and piracy.

This theft is happening at an alarming rate and should be one of America’s top national security concerns. This rampant theft is crushing American jobs. We need to identify these economic cyber criminals and create real consequences that prevent criminals from committing economic espionage and from undermining our economy, effectively compromising U.S. national security.

Because of this massive theft of American innovation and the jobs that come with it, I introduced a new bill with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) to punish criminals backed by China or other foreign governments for cyber theft. The Cyber Economic Espionage Accountability Act, H.R. 2281, sends a clear message to offending nations that this behavior will no longer be tolerated.

The Cyber Economic Espionage Accountability Act calls for the Department of Justice to bring more economic espionage criminal cases against offending foreign actors. The bill would also deny foreign agents participating in cyber crimes from applying for visas to enter the U.S. And if they are currently residing in the U.S., their visa could be revoked and their financial assets frozen.

This legislation will finally put real teeth behind our protests to China. Once the U.S. begins freezing assets and revoking visas, the Chinese should get the message that there are consequences for their illegal actions, which violate the trade agreements they have signed and are not in accordance with a nation in good standing with international law.

The past two American administrations have been reluctant to confront China on these activities, fearing trade reprisals. I believe lack of action is now far more dangerous because it allows the Chinese to conduct business as usual, each day attacking our networks with reckless abandon, grabbing anything of value they can snatch.

Along with House Intelligence Committee ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), I have also introduced legislation to allow the government and the private sector to voluntarily share anonymous cyber threat information so companies can protect their own networks from these cyberattacks. The Cyber and Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) has substantial civil liberties and privacy protections built into the legislation, and it was approved by the House with an overwhelming bipartisan vote.

Since I have been in Congress, I have watched Michigan manufacturing jobs disappear because of this effort by the Chinese government to steal valuable intellectual property. 

This impacts literally every industry in my home state and around the country that has intellectual property. It is why CISPA is supported by nearly every sector of the American economy, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the National Association of Manufacturers to TechNet and the Financial Services Roundtable. I knew this legislation was crucial when I got Manhattan and Silicon Valley to agree that CISPA is the first step in a long battle with cyber theft. 

These two bills I have authored will finally give our employers a fighting chance to protect their valuable intellectual property from these attacks. These protections mean they will be more likely to keep their doors open and retain precious American jobs.

Rogers has represented Michigan’s 8th congressional district in the House of Representatives since 2001. He is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.