By Representative Mike Rogers and Representative Dutch Ruppersberger
The Chinese government has been quietly pursuing a strategy to help project that nation into superpower status. China steals as much intellectual property as it can from U.S. companies and uses it to artificially and unfairly compete in the global marketplace. Beijing uses this information to further its military modernization and, most important, to help fuel economic growth.
Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the Chinese regime realized that military strength flows directly from economic power. China, Beijing realized, would need to develop a much stronger and more innovative economy to compete against the United States.
Since China's closed society does not foster innovation, the Chinese government decided to take a shortcut to prosperity. It began by stealing hard-copy business plans and sensitive research-and-development information from U.S. and other Western companies when their executives traveled to China. U.S. companies soon began noticing a surge in counterfeit products as their innovations were being stolen, re-engineered and sold by Chinese companies on global markets.
With the Internet boom, China turned its focus to cyber espionage and began stealing the hard work and innovations of U.S. companies on a far larger scale.
Every morning in China, thousands of highly trained computer spies now wake up with one mission: Steal U.S. intellectual property that the Chinese can use to further their economic growth. American companies are hemorrhaging research and development on products ranging from fighter engines, to pesticides, to cutting-edge information technology.
The scope of this effort is massive and the rampant theft is breathtaking. What is now happening to U.S. businesses may be the largest transfer of wealth in world history.
In the past few years, China has stolen from U.S. companies the amount of intellectual property equal to 50 times the current print collection of the Library of Congress. This activity can no longer just be a cost of doing business in China. China is literally trying to steal our prosperity and our way of life. Other nation-states like Russia and Iran also are getting in on the act, rapidly becoming insatiable cyber predators.
We wrote a bipartisan bill that takes an important first step in combating these dangerous threats. Today, when our intelligence services know an attack is aimed at a private network, the government is prohibited by law from sharing information about that cyber threat with the targeted company -- leaving it vulnerable and unaware of the threat until the damage is done. With our simple, targeted legislation, we can make a key change to protect U.S. computer networks from cyber theft and cyberattacks.
Our bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which will be debated on the House floor Thursday and Friday, allows the government to provide classified cyber threat intelligence to the private sector. It also allows private-sector companies then to share cyber threat information with others in the private sector, as well as with the federal government, on a voluntary basis.
An open and transparent process produced this important legislation -- which is supported by virtually every economic sector. We received input from privacy and civil liberties advocates as we were drafting it. They helped us craft a narrow, carefully tailored bill that contains strong protections for Americans' privacy rights.
Some crucial privacy protections include a requirement that any cyber threat information received by the government must be provided voluntarily by the private sector -- and we place strong restrictions on the government's use of that data once it is received. Our bill also mandates an annual audit and report to Congress by the intelligence community inspector general of all cyber information voluntarily shared with the government.
The bill's strong privacy protections will improve U.S. cybersecurity while protecting individual privacy rights. We look forward to continuing to work with all interested parties -- and getting a bill to the president's desk.
The Chinese regime is ruthlessly aggressive in its efforts to provide for its 1 billion citizens. We must remain equally vigilant, however, in our efforts to protect U.S. companies and workers from a fundamental threat to the strongest economy and largest middle class in the world.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) serves as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) is ranking member on the committee.