Cyber Solarium Commission lays out plan to secure supply chain

Over the past two decades, China has mobilized state-owned and state-influenced companies to dominate several emerging markets, especially for 5G telecommunications equipment, according to a report from the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC)

The 50-page report, a follow-up to its March 2020 report, focuses on creating a supply chain strategy for information and communications technologies (ICTs), but notes that similar efforts are needed for operational technologies that control power, water, transportation and other critical infrastructure sectors, such as medical devices and weapons systems.

Much of the effort around creating an ICT supply chain strategy centers on counteracting China’s influence in the 5G market. “This is no accident, but rather the result of a concerted, strategic effort by the Chinese government to capture these markets through a mix of government-led industrial policy, unfair and deceptive trade practices, including state-led intellectual property theft, the manipulation of international standards and trade bodies, a growing network of influence built on the back of diplomatic and trade negotiations, and significant R&D investments in ICT.”

CSC said efforts by China have put the United States and its friends at a disadvantage, creating a trade system that’s neither free nor fair. The CSC said the United States must step up its efforts because the nation that wins the battle over 5G technology will hold the keys to the next 20 years of innovation and economic growth.

The white paper says the following steps are key to an ICT strategy:

  1. Identify key technologies and equipment through government reviews and public-private partnerships to identify risk.
  2. Ensure minimum viable manufacturing capacity through strategic investment, where analysis has determined that the private capital market will not suffice, and through the creation of economic clusters.
  3. Protect supply chains from compromise through better intelligence, information sharing and product testing.
  4. Stimulate a domestic market through targeted infrastructure investment, as necessary, and ensuring the ability of firms to offer products in the United States similar to those offered in foreign markets.
  5. Ensure global competitiveness of trusted supply chains, including American and partner companies, in the face of Chinese and anti-competitive behavior in global markets.

In its original report last March, the CSC, headed by Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., offered multiple recommendations for improving the nation’s cybersecurity capabilities. As part of the plan, CSC recommended empowering CISA as well as creating new focal points for coordinating cybersecurity in the executive branch and Congress. CSC said the position of National Cyber Director should be created with oversight from a new Cybersecurity Commission.

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