Chinese Spying Exposes American Tech



Submitted By David Howard


The Chinese spy balloons that have traversed Montana should serve as a glaring wake up call to all Americans about the increasingly aggressive and adversarial stance the Chinese government is taking against our country.  China has made no secret of its plans to supplant the United States as the global superpower and the strides it is making to overtake America in terms of economic might and technological superiority.

We’re in a race against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and it’s one we cannot afford to lose.  Fortunately, the United States hold a big advantage over the CCP as the world leader in technological innovation, at least for the time being.

Our economy is bigger and stronger, and our military is more sophisticated.  Staying ahead economically and militarily is the key to stopping the CCP worldview from taking over, which means we must maintain our technological edge.

The CCP recognizes this fact as well.  They’ve invested heavily in advancing their own technology sector, which has produced clones of American companies, such as TikTok and Huawei.  They also employ state-sanctioned cyber-attacks and intellectual property theft to weaken their American competitors.

But most worrying is China’s saber-rattling about Taiwan, the tiny island nation about 100 miles from the Chinese coastline that produces the majority of advanced micro-chips utilized by the United States and other Western countries.
None of these are idle threats.  In fact, the CCP has made it a stated priority to overtake the United States as the world’s technology leader by 2035.  It’s part of the legacy Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to leave behind.

Thankfully the centrally planned, state-backed approach China is taking cannot beat the bottom-up, entrepreneurially-driven approach that has long made America the world’s foremost economic and military powerhouse.  That is, unless we pursue anti-innovation policies that tie one hand behind our back.  Unfortunately, that is exactly what some in Congress would have America do in limiting our technology sector’s ability to drive American innovation forward.

Congress is currently considering proposals to undermine the technology sector by exposing them to new, heavy-handed, and short-sighted regulation that will make it even more difficult to innovate in this country.  Weakening our tech sector is the worst thing we could do in a time of increasing CCP aggression.

We are in a technological “arms” race in which our competitor is willing to go to any lengths to increase their chances of gaining the upper hand.  Increasing the regulatory burden on our domestic technology companies will only make that race easier for the CCP.

Instead, we should be bolstering America’s advantages, while further cracking down on CCP-sponsored intellectual property theft and cyber-attacks against American companies.

We need to ramp up our military support of Taiwan to protect their micro-chip industry.  And at the same time we should be increasing production of American-made chips to reduce our exposure to imported technology.  Most of all, we should be clearing out regulatory hurdles that hold our tech companies back.

America will no doubt see more incursions by the CCP against our country.  The revelation of their aerial surveillance likely pales in comparison to the mass data collection they’re perpetrating through other applications.  It’s time for our country to get serious about the threat posed by the CCP, and that starts with Congress implementing policy that strengthens our technology sector.

David Howard is a former Montana state Senator who represented Senate District 29.  He lives in Park City.

Don’t Give The IRS Access To More Of Your Data


Submitted By Senator Ken Bogner

Turn on cable news and you would think that Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on anything, and that bipartisanship is nothing but fantasy. But dig a little deeper, and you will find commonsense policies that Republicans and Democrats should see eye to eye on. Protecting sensitive and personal data of taxpayers should be one of these obvious bipartisan priorities.

As a state Senator, I am committed to protecting the personal privacy and data security of my fellow Montanans. In fact, I introduced the Constitutional  amendment voters approved last year to modernize the state Constitution by explicitly requiring state and local governments to get a warrant before accessing private electronic data. This amendment passed with an overwhelming 82 percent of the vote.

Although this amendment represents much-needed progress in data protection, I can’t help but feel as though the federal government is taking two steps backwards with a congressional proposal that would expose millions of taxpayers to data breaches, hackers, and identity theft. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and her progressive allies in Congress are pushing legislation that would require the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to file tax returns on behalf of taxpayers. In spite of the IRS’ long history of misusing taxpayer data, Congress has already allocated $15 million to study the feasibility of this bad idea.

Building and running a complicated government-run tax preparation system will require the IRS to collect highly sensitive information from taxpayers, including data that the agency does not currently have. The IRS cannot be trusted with protecting this private data. On numerous occasions already, hackers have been able to breach IRS systems and the agency’s website, stealing taxpayers’ sensitive information, like social security numbers, and exposing hundreds of thousands of Americans to identify theft.

For more than a year between 2015 and 2016, the IRS also failed to inform more than 700,000 taxpayers that hackers accessed their personal information through the agency. Despite being responsible for this massive data breach, the IRS did nothing to help the victims. One taxpayer said, “Short of changing your social security number, which I understand only witness protection program victims can do, we don’t really have a solution yet.”

And, sometimes, it doesn’t even take a breach! Late last year, the IRS “inadvertently” published confidential and personal data of more than 112,000 taxpayers on its own website. And this information stayed up on the agency’s website for more than a month before anything was done about it.

There’s good reason why Montanans turn to their local accountant, tax professional, or trusted online software during tax season. These private sector services have a fiduciary responsibility to their customers, and they take meaningful and significant steps to protect their sensitive data, including investing in the latest and most advanced cybersecurity measures. Meanwhile, the IRS is still operating computer systems that are decades out of date.

Giving the IRS access to taxpayers’ sensitive data and information is not just bad policy, it’s bad politics. A national poll conducted by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance found that more than 75 percent of voters would oppose a government-run tax preparation system, while 60 percent would vote against political leaders who support such a proposal.

I don’t see eye to eye on many issues with Senator Tester, but data security isn’t a red or a blue issue – it’s one that literally affects all of us in this day and age. I urge Senator Tester to work across the aisle and oppose this misguided IRS-run tax preparation system that would unnecessarily compromise Montanans data security and potentially expose millions of taxpayers to cybersecurity breaches.

State Senator Ken Bogner (R-MT) of Miles City is a Marine veteran and has been a champion for consumer privacy and data security in the legislature.