April 30, 2021

Cortez Masto and Portman Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Further Combat Chinese Government’s Influence on Technology Standards Setting

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced bipartisan legislation to make sure the United States is positioned to lead international standards-setting, counter the Chinese government's influence and protect American jobs. This legislation would require the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to create a task force that would counter Chinese influence and ensure the United States is leading the emerging technology standards-setting process, and builds on Cortez Masto and Portman’s bipartisan Ensuring American Leadership over International Standards Act, which was signed into law last year.

“Nevada is full of innovative technology companies, which provide hundreds of good paying jobs across the state, and we need to ensure the U.S. continues to be an international leader in this space,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This includes protecting U.S. leadership in setting technology standards, which are international rules for how technology is safe and accessible across the world and determine everything from to how software operates on different computers, to the frequencies cell phones use to make calls. This bipartisan legislation would help strengthen our country’s technology industry, make us more competitive economically, and help protect jobs in Nevada and across the country.”

“Standards setting is a critical, if often unsung, aspect to American competitiveness,” said Senator Portman, co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus. “Unfortunately, the United States has fallen behind in terms of participating in many standards setting bodies related to emerging technology, while China’s membership has surged. This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that standards setting processes remain neutral, industry driven, and focused on sound technical decisions, rather than techno-national protectionism.”

This legislation intends to stop the Chinese government from dominating international standards-setting – which would allow them to continue to lead in the development of new technologies – and protect American jobs by strengthening the United States’ position as a leader in this space. This legislation would protect American competitiveness and protect American jobs by creating an Emerging Technology Standards-Setting Task Force, led by OSTP, which would include representation from Department of Commerce, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, Department of Labor. The Task Force would engage with academia and the private sector to develop a long-term strategic plan to assess which technology standards (5G, artificial intelligence, etc.) have the greatest impact on national security and economic competitiveness, and to craft a strategy to credibility and engagement with international institutions on standards-setting.

Senators Cortez Masto and Portman are leading bipartisan efforts in the Senate to counter the Chinese government’s efforts to influence technology and international standards-setting. Their Ensuring American Leadership over International Standards Act, which was signed into law last year, commissions a study to help ensure the Chinese government isn’t exerting undue influence on international standards-setting. Cortez Masto and Portman have also introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen the security and integrity of United States scientific and research enterprise.

Senator Cortez Masto also introduced bipartisan legislation to fund research into ways of detecting “deepfakes,” online videos that are manipulated to realistically mimic a person’s identity, to raise awareness and determine ways to combat the rising threat of this technology. This legislation was signed into law last year.