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Bill would restore U.S. leadership in setting international technology standards

Rebecca Barnabi
Photo Credit: science photo

In response to the rising influence of Chinese companies on international technology standards and practices, legislation has been introduced to restore the United States’s position as a leader in standards-setting.

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner of Virginia and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee introduced the Promoting United States Leadership in Standards Act of 2024 today.  

For decades, the U.S. led the world in developing new technologies, which allowed our country to set the rules of the road when it came to global standards. However, in recent years, Chinese companies backed by the Communist Party of China have overtaken the U.S., which has allowed the Chinese government to influence standards in ways that further their own interests.

“In recent years, the Communist Party of China has asserted their dominance in the global technology space, and as their status has risen, our authority and influence has fallen,” Warner said. “This legislation clearly outlines steps we must take to reestablish our leadership and ensure that we are doing all we can to set the global standards for critical and emerging technologies.”

Standards-setting bodies make critical decisions not only relating to technical specifications, but also relating to values, such as openness, safety, and accessibility, embedded in emerging technologies.

“The Communist Chinese Party has made it their mission to undermine the U.S. and our interests around the globe by exploiting our deficiencies,” Blackburn said. “As they ramp up their efforts to dominate global standards for emerging technologies, the U.S. must be a global leader in innovation, and that includes setting standards that reflect our interests and values.”

 The Promoting United States Leadership in Standards Act would: 

·Require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to submit a report to Congress that identifies current U.S. participation in standards development activities for AI and other CETs;

·Create an easy-to-access web portal to help stakeholders navigate and actively engage in international standardization efforts. The portal would include a list of relevant standards and information about how to participate in standardization activities related to AI and other CETs;

·Establish a pilot program to award $10 million in grants over 4 years to support the hosting of standards meetings for AI and other CETs in the U.S.;

·Create a report to Congress, after the third year of the program, that identifies grant recipients, provides a summary of expenses, assesses the effectiveness of the program to grow the number of standards meetings in the U.S, and shows the geographic distribution of event attendees.

“The United States must continue to lead global technical standardization. IEEE-USA supports Senator Warner’s and Senator Blackburn’s Promoting United States Leadership in Standards Act of 2024 to enable necessary increased stakeholder access to the standards development process, especially for those who may not have the resources to fully engage in the development activities. Enabling access for underrepresented actors increases the diversity of voices and ensures democratization of the process, thus strengthening the open markets in which the U.S. is highly competitive,” IEEE-USA President Keith Moore said. 

According to Nicole Isaac, Vice President, Global Public Policy, Government Affairs, Cisco, which is engaged in the development and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI), the company believes U.S. leadership is fundamental in the development of global standards for AI and other technologies.

“This legislation will not only foster U.S. participation in standards-setting bodies but also help create a policy environment that unlocks the benefits of responsible and trustworthy use of AI. We applaud the bipartisan efforts of Senators Warner and Blackburn and look forward to engaging them and other stakeholders on this important issue,” Isaac said. 

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.