Florida proposal would target foreign corporate espionage

March 1, 2021 GMT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said China’s theft of intellectual property is among the nation’s most pervasive threats as he outlined proposed legislation Monday to limit its influence in Florida.

The proposal would require universities to report any gifts of $50,000 from a foreign source and more thoroughly screen foreign applicants for research positions. Research institutes would have to report all work-related travel to foreign counties.

It would also require any company that wants to do business with the state or apply for grants to disclose financial ties worth more than $50,000 with China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria or Venezuela


“The Communist Party of China has been meticulous and deliberate in their in economic infiltration across the globe,” DeSantis said. “The Chinese Communist Party has made it a mission of their global expansion of power to steal intellectual property from our businesses, our government and our academic institutions.”

DeSantis was joined by Republican House Speaker Chris Sprowls and other GOP lawmakers.

“There are nations that spurn our freedom, yet yearn for our innovation; that seek to corrupt our institutions, exploit our openness and steal the products of American ingenuity,” Sprowls said.

The legislation also would include greater penalties for theft or selling trade secrets if it benefits a foreign government or entity and would make it a crime to sell or attempt to sell trade secrets if the person knows or should have known they were stolen.

The issue is also a major priority for the FBI.

“The greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality, is the counterintelligence and economic espionage threat from China,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said on the agency’s website.