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“Strike Force” Will Bolster Tech Defenses

The Justice and Commerce departments will launch a new partnership aimed at blocking foreign adversaries from obtaining sensitive U.S. technologies and data, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s going on: The Disruptive Technology Strike Force “will pair federal prosecutors with Commerce Department agents to investigate and prosecute criminal violations of U.S. export controls laws, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a speech in London.”

Why it’s important: Export controls—Commerce Department–administered restrictions on the sale of technologies that have both commercial and military applications—have come into the spotlight in recent years as the U.S. seeks to maintain an edge over China, Russia and other countries seen as potential national security threats.

  • “‘Our goal is simple but essential: to strike back against adversaries trying to siphon our best technology,’ Ms. Monaco said.”
  • Semiconductors are of particular concern, with Congress last year passing the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act to bolster U.S. semiconductor manufacturing. 

More action: Prosecutors also plan to increase scrutiny of foreign investment in the U.S. and will look for ways to monitor American private investment in foreign companies in critical sectors.

  • The Biden administration and Congress are also debating the establishment of a more formal outbound investment-review mechanism, either through executive order or legislation.

What it means: The new strike force will likely place additional scrutiny on U.S. firms, “which can expect to receive subpoenas and information requests.”

  • “‘China and Russia are some of the world’s most sophisticated export controls evaders,’ [Crowell & Moring LLP attorney Jason] Prince said. ‘It will be more important than ever for companies to do their due diligence and ensure they don’t unwittingly supply advanced technology to Chinese or Russian operatives.’”
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