As we’ve talked about this week, ITI and a broad coalition of technology and business organizations on Thursday urged Congress and the White House to revisit a provision buried in the recently enacted government funding bill. The provision would force several federal agencies buying IT systems manufactured in China to have those systems first be reviewed and approved by the FBI. It was buried in a massive must-pass funding bill and the light of scrutiny has shown it to be what it is –- anti-competitive, disruptive for U.S. businesses, and potentially harmful for the U.S. economy.
In addition to the hurdles placed in front of U.S. government purchasers by this policy rider, our fear is that the new law also may prompt China and other major U.S. trading partners to adopt their own restrictions targeting U.S. companies, placing an unnecessary drag on the U.S. economy.
Last night, The Hill’s Brendan Sasso first reported that the White House is also concerned.
"The undefined terms of this provision will make implementation challenging," White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in an email.
"It could prove highly disruptive without significantly enhancing the affected agencies’ cybersecurity. While the Administration has raised concerns about the cyber threats emanating from China, resolving this issue requires open dialogue between the U.S. and China," she added.
Hayden said the administration plans to work with Congress to revise the provision as part of the 2014 appropriations process.
This is good news. The House and Senate are beginning work on the round of government funding bills for the next fiscal year, which starts on October 1. That allows time for our lawmakers and the Administration to come together on a more effective approach to advance cybersecurity in the federal government.
We thank the White House for its global leadership on this front. Other governments watch our cybersecurity policies closely, and it is helpful that the Administration has made clear its thoughts on the most effective ways to increase cybersecurity.
ITI's Global Policy Director Jimmy Goodrich contributed to this blog.