Congressman Murphy reintroduces legislation to crack down on foreign spying at universities
RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - Congressman Greg Murphy (NC-03) first introduced legislation cracking down on foreign spying at colleges and universities last July. Then on Thursday, Murphy reintroduced the Intelligence on Nefarious Foreign Leaders Using Education Networks for Corrupt Enrichment (INFLUENCE) Act.
According to the Intellectual Property Commission, they estimate foreign groups steal $300 billion in American intellectual property annually, and the Commission says China is responsible for 70% of that theft or $210 billion annually.
Murphy says that statistic is why he and the subcommittee reintroduced the legislation on Thursday. He said the legislation aims to limit intellectual property theft by foreign nationals at colleges and universities.
“China is an American adversary – they are not simply ‘competitors’ as President Joe Biden recently stated,” said Murphy. “We have evidence the Chinese government will stop at nothing to steal American secrets and intellectual property. To stop this, we need to take a closer look at foreign involvement in colleges and universities, which is where a large portion of American research takes place.”
The Center for Strategic and International Studies compiled a list of 152 publicly reported cases of Chinese espionage seeking to acquire information from military, government, civilian and academic institutions.
One of many Chinese espionage examples Murphy cited involves a professor at Ohio State and Penn State. It says that in November 2020, a professor of internal medicine at Ohio State University and Penn State University pled guilty to neglecting to disclose his ties to a Chinese university when securing grants. Investigators believed this was an effort to share federally funded research with China.
According to the committee, existing law requires any gift or contract from a foreign source given to institutions of higher learning valued at $250,000 or more to be reported to the Department of Education. If passed, the INFLUENCE Act would lower that threshold to $50,000. The bill would also require schools to report to the Department of Education on the nature of any contracts with foreign nationals on sensitive projects.
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