Bipartisan bill proposes new White House office to fight Chinese technology threats

A pair of senators on Friday introduced bipartisan legislation that would establish a new federal office focused on combatting Chinese and other foreign threats to U.S. technology, including supply chain risks and technology theft.  

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senators offer bipartisan bill to help US firms remove Huawei equipment from networks DOJ plans to show Senate Intel less-redacted Mueller report, filing shows MORE (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump GOP senators work to get Trump on board with new disaster aid package MORE (R-Fla.), also a member of the panel, said that creating the Office of Critical Technology and Security at the White House would help coordinate efforts to protect technology across the federal government.

ADVERTISEMENT

The office would also coordinate with the private sector, federal and state tech and telecom regulators, international partners and allies, and other relevant organizations.

“It is clear that China is determined to use every tool in its arsenal to surpass the United States technologically and dominate us economically," Warner, a former telecommunications executive, said in a statement. "We need a whole-of-government technology strategy to protect U.S. competitiveness in emerging and dual-use technologies and address the Chinese threat by combating technology transfer from the United States.”

Rubio also warned that China continues to be a sophisticated foreign threat to the U.S.

“China continues to conduct a coordinated assault on U.S. intellectual property, U.S. businesses, and our government networks and information with the full backing of the Chinese Communist Party,” Rubio said in a statement.

“The United States needs a more coordinated approach to directly counter this critical threat and ensure we better protect U.S. technology. We must continue to do everything possible to prevent foreign theft of our technology, and interference in our networks and critical infrastructure. By establishing the Office of Critical Technologies and Security, this bill will help protect the United States by streamlining efforts across the government," he continued.

The introduction of the bill comes amid concern about the potential threat posed by foreign technology, particularly following the controversy over ZTE and Huawei, two Chinese telecom firms that U.S. intelligence has flagged as security risks.
 
The senators nodded at the ordeal in their announcement of the bill, which comes amid increased tensions over trade and security with China, whose telecom companies are seen as a particular threat.
 
"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," according to a press release accompanying the bill.
 
Security experts and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have warned that hackers could sabotage technology or software used in American products or computer systems for future cyberattacks or espionage.
 
According to the press release, the 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."