WASHINGTON – A group of lawmakers proposed legislation Thursday that would deny US entry and freeze the assets of foreign nationals involved in hacking or cybercrimes targeting the United States.
The Cyber Economic Espionage Accountability Act calls US authorities “to bring more economic espionage criminal cases against offending foreign actors,” the lawmakers said in a statement.
The bill would also ban foreigners participating in cyber crimes from getting visas to enter the United States. If they are US residents, their visa would be revoked and their financial assets frozen under the proposal.
“This is a vital step to let China know that there are real consequences to stealing American intellectual property and robbing US ingenuity and innovation in order to gain competitive advantage,” said Representative Mike Rogers, one of the sponsors.
“It’s happening at an alarming rate. It is one of my top national security concerns,” said Rogers, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee.
The announcement came on the eve of President Barack Obama’s first summit with new Chinese President Xi Jinping at a secluded California retreat.
The meeting in the desert oasis will focus on testy issues between Washington and Beijing — great power rivalry, claims of cyber spying, trade and currency disputes and North Korea’s dangerous nuclear poker.
“This bill will give the president and Congress the power and oversight to deal with foreign cyber espionage in a meaningful way,” said Representative Tim Ryan, another sponsor.
“We need to ensure that countries like China and Russia no longer gain a competitive advantage through cyber crimes.”
Senator Ron Johnson, who also backed the bill said it would help “enforce penalties for those bad actors,” and added that he encourages Obama “to make this a topic of discussion with Chinese President Xi Jinping tomorrow.”