Apr 21 2021

Graham Legislation Protects America from Chinese Efforts to Steal Intellectual Property, Trade Secrets and Vital National Security Research

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has introduced The Combating Chinese Purloining (CCP) of Trade Secrets Act.  The legislation seeks to protect American businesses and government institutions from attacks designed to steal sensitive information.

“The United States is under relentless attack by foreign cybercriminals and state actors who seek to harm our economic interests and national security,” said Graham.  “My legislation is designed to deter behavior, much of it from China, that results in the loss of trade secrets, intellectual property, and sensitive government research.”

Highlights of the Graham CCP Trade Secrets Act include:

  • Increases Penalties for Using Communication Interception Devices to Aid a Foreign Government

This bill increases the maximum statutory penalty from 5 to 20 years of imprisonment for those individuals attempting to benefit a foreign government by manufacturing, distributing, possessing, or advertising any wire, oral, or electronic communication intercepting devices.

  • Protects U.S. Businesses from Foreign Trade Secret Theft

This bill expands available penalties for foreign persons (to include individuals, corporations, business associations, government entities operating as a business enterprise, etc.) who misappropriate a trade secret. These penalties include import restrictions placed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, denial of export licenses by the U.S. Department of Commerce; denial of a license for the export of defense articles or defense services by the U.S. Department of State; prohibition on applications for patent protections by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; and denial of visas by the U.S. Department of State.

  • Combats Cybercrime by Shutting Down Botnets

The legislation enhances the DOJ’s ability to fight networks of compromised computers known as botnets. Under the current law, DOJ’s authority to obtain injunctive relief to shut down botnets is limited to botnets engaged in fraud or illegal wiretapping. This provision expands DOJ’s authority and allows for injunctions against botnets engaged in a broader range of illegal activity, including destruction of data, denial of service (DoS) attack, and other criminal acts. The bill also criminalizes knowingly causing or attempting to cause damage to a critical infrastructure computer when substantial impairment results in the operation of the computer or the critical infrastructure itself with a fine and/or imprisonment up to 20 years.

  • Tougher Penalties for Those Engaged in Espionage, Theft of Trade Secrets, and Improper Interference in U.S. Elections

The legislation creates grounds of inadmissibility and deportability for those who seek to enter the U.S. to engage in espionage, theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets, involvement in commercial fraud schemes, and improper interference in U.S. elections.

  • Restricts Access to Government-Funded Research Projects

The bill prohibits the issuance of visas to Chinese nationals who present a national security risk or attempt to do graduate-level coursework in sensitive fields such as military intelligence and nuclear engineering. It requires “covered persons” from China (and any other “covered country” posing a threat to U.S. economic or national security interests) working on sensitive research to get approval from ODNI to participate. In addition, it criminalizes any person’s failure to disclose foreign funding for covered research.

“If we don’t stop the hemorrhaging of intellectual property and information to foreign actors, it will have a disastrous effect on our nation’s global standing in business, foreign policy, and national security for years to come,” concluded Graham.