U.S. Congressman Jim Banks introduced a new bill to legislation last week, attempting to prevent sensitive federally funded college research from being infiltrated and pillaged by foreign spies.
The bill was introduced under the name, "Protect Our Universities Act," it requires foreign students from Russia, Iran, North Korea and China to obtain official paperwork from the National Intelligence Director, in order to participate in certain federally funded projects.
The research specifically financed by departments of Defense, Energy and Intelligence communities, will require foreign students to provide the proposed protocolled paperwork.
The Protect Our Universities Act plans to establish a task force led by agents within our Education Departments. This task force will disallow any technology from companies of those nations engaged in university projects that contain any sensitive research. Agents will have the ability to monitor foreign students participation in projects that may harbor federally funded research information.
"We must get tough against these covert threats on college campuses and limit the effectiveness of their information-gathering missions," Rep. Jim Bank said in a statement.
Banks introduced the bill as a reaction to the disorganized, and corrupt response from Education Departments, specifically regarding letters urging the launch of an investigation in foreign espionage. The letters were concerning attempts by Chinese organizations to illegally obtain research and technology from U.S. colleges across the country.
"The Department’s lack of a response prompted my colleagues and I introduce this bill, mandating a more serious response from the Department to address this issue," Banks said in a statement.
According to Journal Gazette, Rep. Banks legislation has already identified six different companies posing espionage threats to federally funded college research projects: Huawei Technologies, ZTE, Hytera Communications, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Dahua Technology, all of China, and Kaspersky Lab of Russia.
Early reports from Rep. Jim Banks and his administration, estimate that more than 300,000 Chinese nationals attend U.S. universities, work in labs, incubators and innovation centers holding valuable federally funded research.
"Foundational research for key U.S. defense technologies lacks the proper safeguards at our institutions of higher education," Banks said in his statement. "Adversarial companies, often influenced by foreign governments, are eager to take advantage of U.S. technological advances and vibrant university research efforts. Countries like China may use subversive tactics to gain footholds in major STEM programs in U.S. universities to create a pipeline of data and information back to the mainland."
The Journal Gazette reported: FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the agency was collecting evidence on Chinese government sponsored Confucius Institutes. Many of these institutes have partnerships with multiple American colleges.
"They’re exploiting the very open research and development environment that we have, which we all revere," Wray told senators at the time. Christopher Wray said.
According to Pedro Ribeiro, Association of American Universities, V.P. of Communications, there are more than 60 "research universities" who are currently members of the AAU. Back in 2016, these universities received a total of $23.3 billion for federal research and developmental projects. Out of the total sum, $4.6 billion came directly from two federal departments, Defense and Energy.
"We look forward to working with Rep. Banks and to provide him with some feedback on the legislation and to work with Congress generally on what we know is an incredibly important issue about security threats,"
"It is something that our universities care a lot about and have been working very hard on with the federal government," Pedro Ribeiro said.
Rep. Trent Kelly (R-Miss.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.) and Paul Cook (R-Calif.) have all signed onto the Rep. Jim Banks proposed bill.