U.S. senators introduce new bill to fight cyber theft

A new bill that would allow the U.S. president to block import of products containing stolen U.S. technology has been introduced in the Senate on Tuesday.

Sponsored by Democrats Carl Levin and Jay Rockefeller and Republicans John McCain and Tom Coburn, the Deter Cyber Theft Act is aimed at tackling the problem of theft of intellectual property from U.S. companies and its use by foreign countries and companies to create products that directly compete against American companies and workers.

According to the proposed legislation, the Director of National Intelligence would be required to compile an annual report on foreign economic and industrial espionage, which would include a list of foreign countries that engage in it and target the U.S.; a list of U.S. technologies that have already been stolen and those that are currently targeted; a list of products created and services provided by using the stolen information and of foreign companies that produced and offered them; and finally an overview of the actions the DNI and other federal agencies have undertaken to prevent and/or decrease the exfiltration of this information in the first place, as well as the progress made each year.

A foreign country would be identified as engaging in economic or industrial espionage in cyberspace if it engaged in such practices; if it facilitated, supported, failed to prosecute or permit such espionage by its citizens or residents or entities subjected to that government’s jurisdiction.

The bill would also allow the U.S. president “block import of products containing stolen U.S. technology; products made by state-owned enterprises of nations on the DNI’s priority watch list that are similar to items identified in the DNI’s report as stolen or targeted U.S. technology; or made by a company the DNI identifies as having benefited from theft of U.S. technology or proprietary information.”

“Our economic prosperity and national security depend on bolstering our cybersecurity, and this bill is a crucial component of that effort,” stated Rockefeller. “We must cut the demand for stolen trade secrets by holding countries who engage in cyber theft accountable for their illegal activities and by preventing products that use stolen information from entering the U.S. market. Alongside other cybersecurity priorities – including stronger cybersecurity standards, cyber workforce training, R&D, and public-private information sharing — this bill to elevate cyber theft as a national security priority is a major step forward for American workers, American businesses, and American ingenuity.”

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