Senators seek launch of anti-cybertheft bill

A new law has been proposed in order to try and deter hackers trying to steal sensitive commercial information in the United States.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer on
cyber crime bill united states espionage trade restrictions

A new bill proposed in the U.S. Senate aims to block the import of products which contain U.S. technology stolen through cybercrime.

Four senators, Democrats Carl Levin and Jay Rockefeller and Republicans John McCain and Tom Coburn, banded together to propose the "Deter Cyber Theft Act" which would take action against countries that have benefited from cyber espionage directed at the United States. As reported by Reuters, the Director of National Intelligence would be required to compile an annual report including a list of nations that are connected to cybercrime directed against U.S. businesses and firms, as well as a list of the most persistent offenders.

The stolen technology and intellectual property would also be documented, as well as research in to which items could have been produced by commercial rivals in other countries.

Politically-based export restrictions then could be enforced as a means of trying to stop data theft in the first place. Under the terms of the bill, the president would be required to block the import of products containing stolen technology and restrict products potentially built from theft from being sold in the United States.

It is worth noting that the United States came in second as a top origin of malicious traffic across the globe -- although China outstripped the nation by claiming 41 percent -- and if the bill is passed, whether other countries will follow suit remains to be seen.

Interestingly, according to the publication, "products made by state-owned enterprises of nations on the DNI's priority watch list that are similar to items identified as being made using stolen technology" would also be restricted. The law may be aimed at trying to stop the theft of IP property from the United States, but it may also be that trade restrictions based on digital warfare could be used to tip the scales and wrestle back consumers from markets flooded with cheaper imports -- such as from China.

Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that the U.S. needs to take "aggressive new steps" to combat cyber espionage, and is required to stop what U.S. Cyber Command commander Gen. Keith Alexander recently called "the greatest transfer of wealth in history." Levin commented:

"It is time that we fought back to protect American businesses and American innovation. We need to call out those who are responsible for cyber theft and empower the president to hit the thieves where it hurts most -- in their wallets, by blocking imports of products or from companies that benefit from this theft."

According to Levin, China "is by far the largest source of theft attempts against U.S. companies." The legislation comes a day after a U.S. Department of Defense report claimed that the Chinese government and military have engaged in widespread cyber espionage campaigns against the U.S designed to steal information concerning diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors that support national defense programs.

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