Bipartisan Bill Supports Stronger Intellectual Property Theft Protections

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher/Writer, AAM

U.S.-China trade negotiations in Beijing seem to be pretty genial so far, and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He’s unexpected attendance suggests that the discussions have considerable import.

However, as positive as these talks appear to be, the threats posed by Chinese efforts to steal intellectual property and undermine American industry loom large.  

Back in Washington, senators on both sides of the aisle are sounding the alarm that these threats cannot be neglected during trade talks for the sake of a quick deal.

Growing fear that China and other foreign nations continue to participate in or facilitate intellectual property (IP) theft has inspired the introduction of a bipartisan bill aiming to combat these national security threats.

The bill, proposed by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Jan. 4, would establish a federal office, the White House Office of Critical Technologies and Security, to develop a national strategy combatting state-sponsored threats to U.S. technology. The office would work in coordination with private and public partners.

A strong response to these attacks on U.S. intellectual property and businesses is certainly needed.

Chinese technology giant Huawei has inspired great anxiety for much of 2018 as its access to sensitive communications in America and abroad through its telecommunications equipment, particularly on military bases, could easily compromise national security. 

The Huawei saga continues with a lawsuit launched today by Huawei against a U.S. technology company.

There was no lack of news of intellectual property theft this past year.

In December 2018, the U.S. Navy reported that the Chinese government has coordinated cyberattacks on all branches of the U.S. military. However, hackers appear to be specifically targeting military contractors in their search for information regarding U.S. advanced military technology.

Foreign attempts to breach America’s industries have been ongoing for years. But, more disturbingly, the Navy reports these cyberattacks are increasing in severity and sophistication.  

Said Sen. Rubio in a press release:

“China continues to conduct a coordinated assault on U.S. intellectual property, U.S. businesses, and our government networks and information with the full backing of the Chinese Communist Party. The United States needs a more coordinated approach to directly counter this critical threat and ensure we better protect U.S. technology. We must continue to do everything possible to prevent foreign theft of our technology, and interference in our networks and critical infrastructure.”

The outcomes of U.S.-China trade talks must address the chilling and persistent threat China poses to our national security in addition to leveling the playing field for American manufacturers – not an easy task. Unless China faces consequences for its action, nothing will change.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Uber Drivers Deserve Legal Rights and Protections

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

In an advisory memo released May 14, the U.S. labor board general counsel’s office stated that Uber drivers are not employees for the purposes of federal labor laws.

Their stance holds that workers for companies like Uber are not included in federal protections for workplace organizing activities, which means the labor board is effectively denying Uber drivers the benefits of forming or joining unions.

Simply stating that Uber drivers are just gig workers does not suddenly undo the unjust working conditions that all workers potentially face, such as wage theft, dangerous working conditions and  job insecurity. These challenges are ever-present, only now Uber drivers are facing them without the protection or resources they deserve. 

The labor board’s May statement even seems to contradict an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that couriers for Postmates, a job very similar to Uber drivers’, are legal employees.

However, the Department of Labor has now stated that such gig workers are simply independent contractors, meaning that they are not entitled to minimum wages or overtime pay.

While being unable to unionize limits these workers’ ability to fight for improved pay and working conditions, independent contractors can still make strides forward by organizing, explained executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai.

“We can’t depend solely on the law or the courts to stop worker exploitation. We can only rely on the steadfast militancy of workers who are rising up everywhere,” Desai said in a statement. 

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