WASHINGTON – Three lawmakers have proposed legislation aimed
at stemming the flow of counterfeit semiconductors into the U.S., a growing
threat to the nation’s national security and critical infrastructure.
The legislation introduced by Reps. Michael McCaul
(R-Texas), Howard McKeon (R-Texas) and William Keating (D-Mass.) seeks to
reverse the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s policy that limits chip makers’
access to photographs of trademarks on suspected fake chips. H.R. 6012 would
again allow chip makers to examine photographs showing identifying information
on suspect chips to determine their authenticity.
The bill’s sponsors said the legislation is designed to stop
the flow of more than 1 million counterfeit chips into the U.S. that
investigators suspect are primarily made in China. More than 2 million
counterfeit or mislabeled chips entered the U.S. in 2010, the lawmakers said.
One technique involves salvaging and repackaging chips from discarded
“From brake systems and defibrillators to advanced military
weapon systems, when a product fails because of a counterfeit chip, the consequences
can be catastrophic,” McKeon said in a statement introducing the legislation. “This
bill will fundamentally improve our efforts to stop the dangerous flow of
counterfeit chips onto our shores.”
McKeon is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
McCaul is chairman of the House Homeland Security Oversight &
A recent investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee revealed that fake chips had turned up in several U.S. weapons,
including the Navy’s SH-60B Seahawk helicopter and the P8-A antisubmarine
Industry groups like the Semiconductor Industry Association
praised the legislation, calling the spread of counterfeit chips in weapons,
networks and medical devices a “ticking time bomb.”
The proposed legislation will initially be considered by the
House Judiciary Committee since it raises issues about intellectual property
rights. With lawmakers heading home for vacation later this week and a general
election looming in the fall, it is unlikely the legislation would make it out
of the committee by the end of the current congressional session.
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