A bill introduced in the Senate Nov. 18 by Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio would charge the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) with reporting to Congress on the impact of the Chinese government’s influence in setting global standards for emerging technologies.

The “Ensuring American Leadership over International Standards Act” is similar to legislation introduced in the House in June, and included in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that Congress will debate in earnest next month.

“It is vital that the United States continues to lead the global standard setting process to ensure the functionality, operability, and safety of emerging technologies,” a release from the bill’s sponsors says.  The bill, the said, “would provide feedback on how the United States and our global allies can continue to ensure that international standards setting continues in a transparent and democratic manner.”

Sen. Cortez Masto said the bill “will help ensure the Chinese government isn’t exerting undue influence” on the standards setting process.

“Standards setting is an important frontier in the development of artificial intelligence,” Sen. Portman said. “American competitiveness with respect to China’s technonationalist pursuit of dominance in emerging technology requires the United States to prioritize integrity and transparency in international standards setting,” he said.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.