Senators, Experts Warn the American Innovation and Choice Online Act Would Weaken U.S. National Security

Washington, D.C. (02/11/2022) – Since the introduction of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S.2992), U.S. senators and national security experts have warned against passing legislation that will weaken U.S. national security and strengthen American adversaries including China and Russia.

Here’s what they’re saying.

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) on 1/20/22: “I’m concerned about the potential national security consequences of this bill. I’m worried that it will harm American business and reward our adversaries, most notably the People’s Republic of China. The last thing that we should be doing is weakening America’s ability to compete in a global economy. I worry that this bill, by disadvantaging American companies, will basically be a big gift to the People’s Republic of China. It serves our homegrown companies up on a platter and does nothing to impact the bad conduct of our adversaries.”

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) on 1/20/22: “I have concerns with provisions in the bill that could require data sharing between American companies and bad actors under the control of the Chinese Communist Party. I don’t think that’s the intent of the bill or the drafters based on our conversation but I do think we can improve that language to make it safer for our companies and citizens.”

Leon Panetta, Former Secretary of Defense, Dan Coats, Former Director of National Intelligence, and 11 other former national security officials on 9/15/21: “The U.S. should adopt policies to ensure we can lead in research and development (R&D), innovation, standards setting, and secure production and supply. Yet just as competition with China enters a critical phase, Congress risks undermining America’s key advantage vis-à-vis China by pursuing domestic legislation that threatens to impede U.S. companies and their ability to pursue such innovation. Recent congressional antitrust proposals that target specific American technology firms would degrade critical R&D priorities, allow foreign competitors to displace leaders in the U.S. tech sector both at home and abroad, and potentially put sensitive U.S. data and IP in the hands of Beijing.”

Robert O’Brien, Former White House National Security Advisor on 12/26/21: “Cloaked in antiquated interpretations of U.S. antitrust law, these bills hand increased authority to bureaucrats at the Federal Trade Commission and lay the groundwork for dismantling America’s most successful technology companies—the ones at the forefront of the race to retain U.S. dominance in fields such as quantum and AI. Chinese firms like Tencent, Bytedance, Alibaba, Huawei and Baidu are seeking to supplant U.S. companies and would have an open field world-wide and in America if these bills pass.”

Klon Kitchen, American Enterprise Institute and Jamil Jaffer, National Security Institute on 1/19/22: “Foreign tech companies will not be bound by these rules and so, if passed, S.2992 will hamstring American companies while leaving global competitors with greater agility. This bill is about more than a few U.S. tech companies being brought down a peg; it’s about us voluntarily ceding critical technological and economic advantage to countries like China at a time when leading in key technologies and tech markets is critical for our nation’s long-term thriving.”

Tatyana Bolton and Brandon Pugh, R Street Institute on 1/20/22: “On the whole, it is difficult for security experts to encourage resilience and diligence for platforms and networks along with the uptake of strong cybersecurity practices. It is even harder to convince businesses that cyber risk is a business risk, or encourage them to develop products with security in mind. While this is not a strict cybersecurity bill, it adds obstacles and restrains the application of security safeguards by platforms, which creates adverse incentives.”

“This bill would punish companies with a business model that focuses on security. From a policy perspective, we should encourage—not discourage—more companies to include more stringent security for all products, especially software that is sold at scale to millions of users. Forced interoperability, narrow requirements and obstacles for security updates through requirements for affirmative defense, as well as patchy security exclusions, create a recipe for weaker cybersecurity and should be reconsidered, amended or removed before any further movement on this legislation.” 

Graham DuFault, The App Association on 1/19/22: “Limiting the universe of bad actors subject to removal to those that appear on lists ‘maintained by the Federal Government’ is laughably inadequate and irresponsible cybersecurity policy. The new language only protects token cybersecurity activity, shielding platforms if they rely on the lists of prohibited persons and businesses from the federal government. Cybercriminals adapt quickly and take a variety of measures to prevent detection. Requiring platforms to wait for threat identification and addition to a federal government list gives criminals an enviable new advantage and would expose consumers to a fresh wave of new threats that mobile devices can easily avoid at present.”

More about the impact S. 2992 would have on data security and national security is available here and here.

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