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White House: China tech ban needs revision

WASHINGTON, April 6 (UPI) — A new law limiting U.S. government purchases of technology systems from China could be “highly disruptive” and should be revised, the White House said.

The restriction was included in a temporary spending bill enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama last week. It blocks NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Commerce Department from buying technology “produced, manufactured, or assembled,” by companies connected to the Chinese government, The Hill newspaper reported Saturday.

It can be waived with approval from the FBI or another similar agency, the newspaper said.

White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told The Hill in an email the language in the new law is unclear, making it difficult to implement.

“It could be highly disruptive without significantly enhancing the affected agencies’ cybersecurity,” Hayden said.

The law was intended to address concerns that the government of China may use equipment sold by Chinese businesses to spy on American businesses and individuals. Hayden said addressing those concerns would be better served by open dialogue between Washington and Beijing.

She said the White House will work with Congress to revise the law’s language.

Several U.S. business interests have said the could disrupt federal agencies’ ability to acquire such items as new computer systems, and could even result in China imposing similar restrictions on businesses acquiring equipment from U.S. companies, The Hill reported.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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