US comes under fire over 'discriminatory' cybercrime law

US comes under fire over 'discriminatory' cybercrime law

Summary: Officials have criticized a new law aimed at improving national security, labeling it "discriminatory" against Chinese firms.

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Credit: CNET

A council which discusses relations between China and the United States has criticized a new law which aims to shore up security by discouraging the Justice Department and other governmental agencies from purchasing IT equipment from Chinese firms.

Under the new law, NASA, the Justice and Commerce departments and the National Science Foundation will have to seek permission from law enforcement agencies before purchasing any IT system that has a connection to Chinese manufacturers -- whether due to direct production or because a firm involved in the supply chain is owned, directed or subsidized by China.

On Monday, the U.S.-China Business Council council's president, John Frisbie, sent a letter to the Senate which stated that the United States' national security is of paramount concern, but it should not be used as a way to restrict international trade. This kind of protectionism, which is more commonly used to secure local jobs, is not appropriate as a means to blanket one whole country as a security risk -- instead, risks to security should be measured on the product itself. The council president told Reuters:

"Product security is a function of how a product is made, used, and maintained, rather than by whom or where it is made. Imposing a country-specific risk assessment creates a false sense of security if the goal is to improve our nation's cybersecurity."

Frisbie has also encouraged the Senate and the House of Representatives to prevent such measures in future legislation.

Chinese officials have asked that the law be stopped in its tracks, as it is apparently an "excuse" to discriminate against Chinese products. Business groups, the Information Technology Industry Association and Business Software Alliance among them, have asked for patience and reconsideration of the new law. The fear is that if the law passes, it may not only harm U.S. interests in Asia, but will also impact the competitive nature of the industry.

Whether a side-effect of restricting one country's products in order to remove its integration into national infrastructure will be advantageous to home-grown tech firms remains to be seen, but internationally, there could be long-term political implications of such a move and effect more than technological trade.

Information technology-related products that originate from China have been under scrutiny over the past year. Telecom equipment maker Huawei recently admitted the firm will see no growth in the United States in 2013, and although it expects sales in Europe and Asia to remain strong, security concerns prompted officials in the United States to advise caution when buying the Asian company's products. In addition, ZTE was also brought under fire in reports that suggested both firms' products may contain malicious code that could infiltrate American networking infrastructure.

Chinese products are not the only issue that the Obama Administration is concerned with. The president recently said that cyberattacks thought to originate from China -- and which are potentially state-sponsored -- mean that cybersecurity will be a "key" issue in future political talks with the country.

Topics: Security, Government US, Malware, China

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13 comments
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  • Those who do the crime

    should not whine...
    happyharry_z
  • Amen to this law, bro!

    When will the average journalist learn that China is not our friend? They haven't been since the West discovered a path to their door hundreds of years ago. They have always been wary of the West, and. with all the newer technology at their disposal, have proven themselves to be even less friendly. Beware smiling faces....the Chinese gov't is famous for this trait, and practice it constantly.
    Electrosurg
  • The most chilling aspect of this...

    "will have to seek permission from law enforcement agencies"

    Since when, does law enforcement have the power to force us to ask their permission before doing anything? They are supposed to enforce existing laws, not make policy decisions. That's one more step toward a totalitarian regime. How can we call ourselves free, when we have to ask the government's permission to do something? We are on a downhill slide toward the same conditions that created WWII Germany.
    BillDem
    • Does not apply to you as a person

      You know this just applies to 4 departments of the US government. It's more like your users having to ask IT Security if they can get a new wifi router. Law enforcement in this case is not the local cops but NSA or FBI.
      sysop-dr
  • Your damn right it is discriminatory...

    You does the crime you do the time! Since there is absolutely NO law enforcement efforts on the PRC side of the equation - we are forced to "discriminate" or pay the consequences!! X-(
    JCitizen
  • ths is a surprise?

    Frisbee is president of the U.S.-China Business Council and anyone expects him to be objective?
    We only buy their goods and give them our jobs. Yeah, that has to be healthy!
    harrim47
  • Do Not Buy from Huawei, ZTE, or any Chinese Companies

    U.S.-China Business Council council's president and John Frisbie are disgrace and ignorant. Huawei, ZTE, and Chinese companies never play by the rules: steals, cheats, lies, and the worst offenders. Chinese government and military are behind them. There are a long list of dirty tricks and ugly evident.
    Nobody is perfect. I whoheartedly believe in free competitions with respectable companies like Samsung, Foxconn, Alcatel-Lucent, Toyota, Ericsson, etc. These companies spend R&D with innovation or legally acquire companies with innovations, contribute to worldwide standards, and operate within respect to the laws.
    Netteligent
    • One More Thing...

      The world is not naive and stupid as these Chinese companies want to believe. Do you really think that North Korea, Pakistan, Iran putting the world in chaos by themselves without a Master?
      The walls have ears. Every time China burnt a foreign partners, everybody knows. If you want respect, you have to earn it.
      National security is a completely different subject. Most of us have nothing or little to do with politics. America is not perfect and never will be. But there is a line. Our current government is working hard and smart to do better. We learn, vote and get rid of these crooks to improve our systems. Treat people the same ways you want to be treated.
      Netteligent
  • It is appropriate to discriminate against the entire country..

    ..if that country's laws nor its officials provide enough assurance that what is purchased is what is advertised, then yes - the country will and should be facing this "unfair discrimination".

    This isn't racism (as John Frisbie's thinly veiled implication would have you believe) - this is sound policy of one country in response to policies (or lack thereof) of other countries.
    daftkey
    • Sorry Edit...

      ..should be "if *neither* that country's laws nor its officials..."
      daftkey
  • I wonder what would happen...

    ...if a mainland Chinese corporate executive publicly supported this law.
    John L. Ries
    • He'd lose his head...

      Slash - Plop! ]:)
      JCitizen
  • Dictatorships

    The Idea that the US or any other country in the "free" world has any trade with this disgusting dictatorship that enslaves it's children so that the ruling class can live in luxury while their citizens suffer..oh pardon me i just described the united states and all of it's puppet politicians that sold their country and it's to business interests so they could make more profit while their people suffered.Guess it goes to show you the US has the best government that corporate funds can buy!
    wizardb@...