Lawmakers Encourage Allied Countries to Set Security Standards for International Tech Research

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, speaks at Acadia National Park, Friday, June 18, 2021, in Winter Harbor, Maine.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, speaks at Acadia National Park, Friday, June 18, 2021, in Winter Harbor, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Heads of the State and Energy departments, OSTP, and others would contribute to their making.

Four lawmakers from both chambers, representing multiple political parties, want federal government leaders to collaboratively work toward setting standards to secure international research in emerging technology areas like artificial intelligence and quantum science.

Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and James Lankford, R-Okla., and Reps. Susan Wild, D-Penn., and Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., introduced legislation Tuesday they positioned as intended to help safeguard and advance American intellectual property and research. 

“In order to ensure the Free World, and not the Chinese Communist Party, leads the way in developing the new technologies of the future, we need to pool our resources and build collective resilience across our societies,” Gallagher said. “This starts with common-sense security standards to ensure that our adversaries are not benefiting from sensitive research.”

A legislative aide shared a copy of the text of the lawmakers’ two-page bill on Wednesday. 

Specifically, it would mandate the secretary of State to work with leaders across the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Security Council, Energy Department, National Science Foundation and other relevant agencies to produce “a list of allied countries with which joint international research and cooperation would advance United States national interests and advance scientific knowledge in key technology focus areas” identified in the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. 

From there, those agencies involved would work with the allies to hash out general security policies and procedures to prevent sensitive research from being disclosed to their competitors. Within a year of the bill’s passage, the State Department and other listed agencies would also need to produce a report to Congress that details “the most promising international research ventures leveraging resources and advancing research in key technology focus areas,” according to its text.

“American researchers are responsible for some of the world’s most cutting-edge research in key technological fields, and it is critical that we protect our breakthroughs from rival nations who would seek to steal our advances and turn them against us,” King said. “At the same time, it is clear that American scientists benefit greatly from working relationships with international colleagues.”

The legislation was referred to the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees. 

It received support from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation shortly after introduction. 

“As Congress focuses on boosting U.S. advanced industrial competitiveness to meet the China challenge, it is critical to not only expand support for R&D and other related policies but to ensure the U.S. government works more closely with our allies to collaborate on advanced technology programs and policies,” ITIF President Dr. Robert Atkinson said.

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