Leaders from the House and Senate announced Thursday that they had introduced legislation intended to punish criminals for cyberespionage and intellectual property theft.
Reps. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.), Tim Ryan (D., Ohio), and Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) announced the Cyber Economic Espionage Accountability Act at a press conference ahead of President Barack Obama’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in California.
The bipartisan collection of lawmakers said they hoped the legislation would signal to President Obama that Congress backs a firm approach to discussing cybersecurity with the Chinese president.
Intellectual property theft costs the United States an estimated $300 billion per year, Sen. Johnson said. Cybertheft also costs "real American jobs," according to Rep. Rogers.
The bill will impose stricter punishments on criminals who steal the U.S. intellectual property. It will allow the Justice Department to deny visas and freeze the assets of those suspected of cyberespionage.
"It will no longer be profitable to steal American intellectual property," Rogers said.
The bill is not designed to specifically target China, but the congressmen stressed several times that China is the biggest offender when it comes to these crimes.
The congressmen said the White House has not yet come out in favor of or against the bill.