Justice and BIS / Export Enforcement Task Force

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The National Security Division of Justice and the Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) are joining with the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and 14 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices – to create a “Disruptive Technology Task Force” to enforce export controls.

“Our goal is simple but essential: to strike back against adversaries trying to siphon our best technology,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “Using real-time intelligence and 21st century data analytics, the Disruptive Technology Strike Force will bring together the Justice and Commerce Departments’ expertise to strike back against adversaries trying to siphon off our most advanced technology, and to attack tomorrow’s national security threats today.”

The strike force will be co-led by Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division and Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement Matthew Axelrod of the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security.

The initiative will focus on end users of national security concern who seek technologies related to supercomputing and exascale computing, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing equipment and materials, quantum computing, and biosciences. Technologies in these fields can be used to improve calculations in weapons design and testing; improving the speed and accuracy of military or intelligence decision-making; and breaking or developing unbreakable encryption algorithms that protect sensitive communications and classified information.

“Advances in technology have the potential to alter the world’s balance of power,” said Assistant Secretary Axelrod. “This strike force is designed to protect U.S. national security by preventing those sensitive technologies from being used for malign purposes.”

The strike force’s work will focus on investigating and prosecuting criminal violations of export laws; enhancing administrative enforcement of U.S. export controls; fostering partnerships with the private sector; leveraging international partnerships to coordinate law enforcement actions and disruption strategies; utilizing advanced data analytics and all-source intelligence to develop and build investigations; conducting regular trainings for field offices; and strengthening connectivity between the strike force and the Intelligence Community.

CFIUS in Focus

Monaco’s announcement was during a speech Februrary 16th at Chatham House in London, during which she discussed Justice’s work on cyber security, as well as “updating our regulatory tools to ensure we protect against foreign investments that threaten our national security.”

“CFIUS began in an era of brick-and-mortar transactions. Today, the greatest risks come not from investment in our physical assets, but from transactions where datasets, software, and algorithms are the assets, Monaco said. “We are exploring how to monitor the flow of private capital in critical sectors and ensure that our own ‘outbound investment’ in dual-use technology doesn’t provide our adversaries with a national security advantage,” Monaco added.