Regulatory intelligence for US exporters

Bipartisan Bill Could Expand BIS Export Control Authority for AI

A bipartisan group of four House members, including Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, introduced a bill last week that they said would help the Bureau of Industry and Security control exports of artificial intelligence systems and other new national security-related technologies.

The Foreign Affairs Committee said May 10 that the U.S. government has the tools it needs to keep critical hardware, such as advanced computing chips and chipmaking equipment, out of the hands of adversaries’ militaries but lacks similar tools for AI software. "This means that a top American AI company could sell its most powerful AI system to China without having to even apply for a license," the committee said in a bill summary. McCaul said his legislation would “close those loopholes."

The bill would specifically allow BIS to require export licenses for AI and other advanced technologies, “giving BIS the authority to stop transfers to China,” the committee said. The legislation would also give BIS "clear legal authority" to use its U.S. persons controls "on activities relating to covered AI systems or other national security-related emerging technologies," the committee said. "This would allow BIS to, for example, require top U.S. AI labs to implement security checks before collaborating with AI labs linked to the Chinese military."

Under current law, the U.S. "national security community does not have the authority necessary to prevent" China from acquiring AI systems that "could aid future cyberattacks against the United States,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill. The lawmakers said BIS can't currently "respond" when U.S. companies sell AI systems that threaten national security to Chinese companies, or when American researchers work in Chinese labs developing AI systems capable of producing advancing bioweapons or hacking American infrastructure.

The proposed Enhancing National Frameworks for Overseas Critical Exports Act (ENFORCE Act), which McCaul’s committee plans to mark up May 16, is co-sponsored by Reps. John Moolenaar, R-Mich., and Krishnamoorthi, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the House Select Committee on China, and Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., a Foreign Affairs Committee member. The Select Committee recommended in December that Congress require the Biden administration to “quickly establish general controls” on AI and other emerging technologies (see 2312120050).