Press Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the below statement after the Department of Justice announced charges against two hackers associated with the Chinese government:

“The Department of Justice, and in particular Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, should be congratulated for their work on this announcement. DOJ’s recent moves to hold China accountable are important in exposing some of the threats posed by China as it attempts to pursue economic and technological dominance over the United States.

While legal action is important, a truly effective response will require a coordinated approach with our allies and a comprehensive strategy to protect our national security and enhance U.S. competitiveness and resiliency. We have to punch back against China’s malign activities – but we also have to do more than play defense if we’re going to truly check China’s bad behavior.” 

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the below statement following the Canadian government’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei:

“There is ample evidence to suggest that no major Chinese company is independent of the Chinese government and Communist Party – and Huawei, which China’s government and military tout as a ‘national champion,’ is no exception. It has been clear for some time that Huawei, like ZTE, poses a threat to our national security. Now we know that Huawei, like ZTE, has violated U.S. sanctions law. It's my hope that the Trump Administration will hold Huawei fully accountable for breaking sanctions law, as it failed to do in the case of ZTE. 

“This is a reminder that we need to take seriously the risks of doing business with companies like Huawei and allowing them access to our markets. I continue to strongly urge our close ally Canada to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of its 5G infrastructure.” 

Sen. Warner, a former telecommunications executive and entrepreneur, has long expressed concerns about the risks to our national security posed by Chinese-controlled telecom companies.

On October 12, 2018, Sen. Warner and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging his country to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance.

In September, Sen. Warner joined several colleagues to introduce the ZTE Enforcement Review and Oversight (ZERO) Act. The bipartisan bill would enforce full compliance by ZTE—a Chinese state-directed telecommunications firm that repeatedly violated U.S. laws – with all probationary conditions outlined in a Commerce Department deal with the company that lifted a denial order banning the export of U.S. parts and components.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) sent another letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph J. Simons pressing the leader of the agency to use the authorities granted to it by Congress to protect American businesses and shoppers from digital advertising fraud, which reached $7.4 billion in 2016 – costs that are later passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. Today’s letter follows an earlier Oct. 25 letter urging the FTC to do more to respond to the prevalence of digital ad fraud, in light of inaction by major industry players like Google to voluntarily curb the problem.

Sen. Warner noted that in large part because of enforcement decisions made by the FTC, Google has come to dominate the digital ad market, but has done little to crack down on fraud. Google was the only major social media company absent for a September hearing in the Senate Intelligence Committee, on which Sen. Warner serves as Vice Chairman.

Sen. Warner today criticized the FTC’s failure to take action, writing, “As long as Google stands to profit from the sale of additional advertisements, the financial incentive for it to voluntarily root out and address fraud remains minimal. It was thus enormously discouraging to read your own response to my [Oct. 25] letter, which did nothing to address the inaction of major industry stakeholders in curbing these abuses. Instead, your letter appeared to suggest that your authority to address deceptive and unfair practices does not apply to this conduct; rather, your letter portrays the FTC as successfully addressing online fraud through workshops and education campaigns. Neither suggestion inspires confidence in the FTC’s efforts as digital ad fraud has continued to proliferate.”

“In recent congressional testimony, you have urged Congress to provide the FTC with additional authority related to promoting competition and consumer protection in the digital age. Increasingly, I am not convinced the Commission is adequately utilizing the authority it already has to crack down on fraud and other misbehavior,” Sen. Warner added. “The FTC is the agency explicitly empowered to address fraud and deceptive practices, and Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act was written in broad terms precisely for this purpose. Since 1938, Congress has given your agency broad enforcement authority to protect consumers and expects you to use it. I would like to sit down with you in the next month to discuss how the FTC can ensure it does the job Congress intended it to do.” 

The full text of today’s letter is available here, and also appears below.

In October, Sen. Warner wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons expressing concern following a report published by Buzzfeed detailing continued prevalence of digital advertising fraud and inaction by Google to curb these efforts. AccordingBuzzfeed, this scheme has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent advertising revenues, with operations spanning more than 125 Android apps and websites. The FTC’s November response can be found here. 

In July 2016, Sen. Warner and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote to then-FTC Chairwoman Ramirez calling on the agency to protect consumers from the growing digital ad fraud phenomenon. Since then, reports have estimated that digital ad fraud has only grown to $7.4 billion in 2017 – and projected to rise to $10.9 billion by 2021.

 

The full text of today’s letter follows:

 

December 6, 2018

 

The Honorable Joseph J. Simons

Chairman

Federal Trade Commission

600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20530

 

Dear Chairman Simons,

 

On October 25th, I wrote to you to express grave concerns with the growing phenomenon of digital ad fraud, and in particular my frustration with the ways that large intermediaries have turned a blind eye to, and in certain cases helped enable, this fraud. This letter followed concerns Senator Schumer and I raised in a 2016 letter to your predecessor about the negative economic impact of ad fraud on end users, advertisers, and publishers. I was deeply disappointed by your November 19th response, which failed to substantively address any of the concerns that I have been raising for two years now regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s failures to crack down on digital advertising fraud.

 

The digital advertising market has come to be largely dominated by one company,  in part because of enforcement decisions by the FTC.  The FTC’s failure to act has had the effect of allowing Google to structure its own market; through a series of transactions, the company has accomplished a level of vertical integration that allows it in effect to act as the equivalent of market-maker, commodities broker, and commodities exchange for digital advertising – in the process creating a range of conflicts of interest. While the company controls each link in the supply chain and therefore maintains the power to monitor activity in the digital advertising market from start to finish, it has continued to be caught flat-footed in identifying and addressing digital ad fraud. As we’ve seen in other contexts – such as the rampant proliferation of online disinformation – major platforms including Google have often proved unwilling to address misuse of their platforms until brought to the wider public’s attention by Congress or media outlets. As long as Google stands to profit from the sale of additional advertisements, the financial incentive for it to voluntarily root out and address fraud remains minimal.

 

It was thus enormously discouraging to read your own response to my letter, which did nothing to address the inaction of major industry stakeholders in curbing these abuses. Instead, your letter appeared to suggest that your authority to address deceptive and unfair practices does not apply to this conduct; rather, your letter portrays the FTC as successfully addressing online fraud through workshops and education campaigns. Neither suggestion inspires confidence in the FTC’s efforts as digital ad fraud has continued to proliferate.

 

In recent congressional testimony, you urged Congress to provide the FTC with additional authority related to promoting competition and consumer protection in the digital age.  Increasingly, I am not convinced the Commission is adequately utilizing the authority it already has to crack down on fraud and other misbehavior. The FTC is the agency explicitly empowered to address fraud and deceptive practices, and Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act was written in broad terms precisely for this purpose. 

 

Since 1938, Congress has given your agency broad enforcement authority to protect consumers and expects you to use it. I would like to sit down with you in the next month to discuss how the FTC can ensure it does the job Congress intended it to do.   

 

Sincerely,

 

Mark R. Warner

United States Senator

 

 

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and co-founder of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, released the following statement on Marriott’s disclosure of a data breach affecting up to 500 million guests:  

“It seems like every other day we learn about a new mega-breach affecting the personal data of millions of Americans. Rather than accepting this trend as the new normal, this latest incident should strengthen Congress’ resolve. We must pass laws that require data minimization, ensuring companies do not keep sensitive data that they no longer need. And it is past time we enact data security laws that ensure companies account for security costs rather than making their consumers shoulder the burden and harms resulting from these lapses.”

 

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Committee, urged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance. A letter from the two Senators to the Prime Minister follows comments made by Head-Designee of the Canadian Center for Cyber Security Scott Jones regarding Huawei. 

The entry of Chinese state-directed telecommunications companies like Huawei into the Canadian market could seriously jeopardize the relationship between U.S. and Canadian carriers, depriving North American operators of the scale needed to rapidly build out 5G networks.

The full text of the letter is below. A copy of the signed letter is available here. 

 

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:

 

We write with grave concerns about the possibility that Canada might include Huawei Technologies or any other Chinese state-directed telecommunications company in its fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications network infrastructure.  As you are aware, Huawei is not a normal private-sector company.  There is ample evidence to suggest that no major Chinese company is independent of the Chinese government and Communist Party—and Huawei, which China’s government and military tout as a “national champion,” is no exception.

 

Based on what we know about Chinese state-directed telecommunications companies, it was troubling to learn that on September 20, 2018, the new Head-Designee of the Canadian Center for Cyber Security Scott Jones told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security that banning Huawei is not needed, in response to a question about why Canada has not come out against Huawei as other Five Eyes allies have.  Specifically, he claimed that Canada has “a very advanced relationship with our telecommunications providers, something that is different from most other countries,” adding, “We have a program that is very deep in terms of working on increasing that broader resilience piece especially as we are looking at the next-generation telecommunications networks.”

 

In contrast to Mr. Scott’s comments, however, three former senior Canadian national security officials warned earlier this year against the inclusion of Huawei in Canada’s 5G network.  One of them—Mr. Ward Elcock, former Deputy Minister of National Defence—told the Globe and Mail on March 18, 2018, “I have a pretty good idea of how signal-intelligence agencies work and the rules under which they work and their various operations,” concluding that, “I would not want to see Huawei equipment being incorporated into a 5G network in Canada.”

 

While Canada has strong telecommunications security safeguards in place, we have serious concerns that such safeguards are inadequate given what the United States and other allies know about Huawei.  Indeed, we are concerned about the impact that any decision to include Huawei in Canada’s 5G networks will have on both Canadian national security and “Five Eyes” joint intelligence cooperation among the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.  As you know, Australia effectively banned Huawei, ZTE, and other Chinese state-directed companies from its nation’s 5G networks by excluding firms that “are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government” and therefore pose unacceptable risks to national security.  Moreover, the United Kingdom’s Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre Oversight Board’s 2018 annual report to Britain’s national security adviser found that “identification of shortcomings in Huawei’s engineering processes have exposed new risks in the UK telecommunications networks and long-term challenges to mitigation and management.”

 

Further, the strong alignment between the United States and Canada in spectrum management has meant that American and Canadian carriers in many cases share complementary spectrum holdings, jointly benefiting from economies of scale for equipment designed for regionally harmonized frequencies. The entry of suppliers such as Huawei into the Canadian market could seriously jeopardize this dynamic, depriving both Canadian and American operators of the scale needed to rapidly build out 5G networks.

 

Given the strong statements by former Canadian national security officials as well as similar concerns out of the U.S., Australia, and the United Kingdom, we hope that you will reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance.  Should you have any questions about the threat that Chinese state-directed telecommunications firms pose to your networks, we urge your government to seek additional information from the U.S. Intelligence Community.

 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and co-chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, released the following statement on the announcement by Facebook that it discovered a security issue affecting almost 50 million accounts: 

“The news that at least 50 million Facebook users had their accounts compromised is deeply concerning. A full investigation should be swiftly conducted and made public so that we can understand more about what happened.  

“Today’s disclosure is a reminder about the dangers posed when a small number of companies like Facebook or the credit bureau Equifax are able to accumulate so much personal data about individual Americans without adequate security measures. 

“This is another sobering indicator that Congress needs to step up and take action to protect the privacy and security of social media users. As I’ve said before – the era of the Wild West in social media is over.”  

To kick start the debate around social media legislation, Sen. Warner in July released a white paper containing a suite of potential policy proposals for the regulation of social media.


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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and co-chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, released the following statement on the White House’s National Cyber Strategy:

“There is not one sector of American society, public or private, that has escaped the threat posed by malicious cyber actors. The entertainment industry, federal, state and local governments, hospitals, and the banking sector – to name just a few examples – have all suffered from major cyber incursions in recent years. Given the scale and frequency of these attacks, and the urgency of the challenge, I have been calling for some time for a national cyber strategy to build resiliency and deter adversaries.

“The White House strategy document outlines a number of important and well-established cyber priorities. We need to focus on growing the cyber workforce, promoting more secure development and security across product lifecycle, establishing norms of responsible state behavior, leveraging federal procurement power to drive better security, and publicly attributing and punishing adversaries who violate those standards. The Administration must now move beyond vague policy proposals and into concrete action towards achieving those goals.”


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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Justice filed charges against a North Korean spy in connection with the 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and the 2017 Wannacry ransomware attack:

“This indictment is the result of years of hard work by the FBI and the Department of Justice, and it is an important step in making clear to our adversaries that these kinds of criminal activities are unacceptable. It also points to the need for a clearly thought-out and articulated strategy for deterring and punishing state-sponsored cyberattacks.”


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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement today after Facebook announced that it had removed 652 fraudulent Iranian-backed pages, groups, and accounts from Facebook and Instagram — as well as a number of pages, groups, and accounts linked to Russian military intelligence from Facebook. This announcement comes just weeks ahead of the September 5th open hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee with the leadership of Facebook, Twitter, and Google on the subject of social media manipulation.

“This is further evidence that foreign adversaries are actively using social media to divide Americans and undermine our democratic institutions. I’ve been saying for months that there’s no way the problem of social media manipulation is limited to a single troll farm in St. Petersburg, and that fact is now beyond a doubt. We also learned today that the Iranians are now following the Kremlin’s playbook from 2016. While I’m encouraged to see Facebook taking steps to rid their platforms of these bad actors, there’s clearly more work to be done. I look forward to questioning the leadership of Facebook, Twitter, and Google about this at the Intelligence Committee’s hearing on September 5th.

 

 

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Senate Banking and Finance Committees, joined Senate colleagues in urging the Chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees to include a Senate-passed amendment cosponsored by Sen. Warner that would reinstate penalties against ZTE in their upcoming NDAA FY2019 Conference Report. Earlier this year, intelligence leaders testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee warning that ZTE, Huawei, and other Chinese state-directed telecommunications companies have the capacity for espionage and intellectual property theft, posing clear threats to the national security, people, and economy of the United States. This week, President Trump’s Commerce Department announced an agreement to lift the ban preventing Chinese telecom giant ZTE from doing business with American suppliers.

Additionally, Senators urged the conferees to include the reforms to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which were a part of the recently passed Senate NDAA bill. These reforms, also known as the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA), would ensure that foreign investments in the U.S. do not pose a national security risk.

Sen. Warner, a former technology executive, has long expressed concern that ZTE poses a significant threat to our national security. He recently wrote to the administration urging President Trump to re-consider a deal with the China-based company.

The text of the letter to NDAA conferees can be found here and below:

 

Dear Chairmen McCain and Thornberry, and Ranking Members Reed and Smith:

 

We write to express our strong support for measures in the Senate-passed Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (FY 2019 NDAA) that would reinstate U.S. government penalties against ZTE, a Chinese state-directed telecommunications company, and modernize the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).  As you begin deliberations over the final version of the FY 2019 NDAA, we request that you include these two measures.

 

Section 6702:  Prohibition on Modification of Civil Penalties under Export Control and Sanctions Laws and Prohibition on Certain Telecommunications Equipment.

 

We strongly oppose the June 2018 deal with ZTE negotiated by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to lift the seven-year ban against the export of U.S. parts and components to ZTE.  BIS imposed this seven-year ban and other penalties against ZTE in April 2018 in response to its numerous violations of U.S. export controls and sanctions laws. 

 

We also note that our nation’s six top intelligence leaders testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in February 2018 about their concern that ZTE, Huawei, and other Chinese state-directed telecommunications companies are beholden to the Chinese government and Communist Party, which provides the capacity for espionage and intellectual property theft, and therefore poses clear threats to the national security, people, and economy of the United States.  

 

As you prepare the Conference Report, we therefore urge you to retain—and further strengthen—Section 6702 of the Senate-passed FY 2019 NDAA, which would not only reinstate the April 2018 penalties against ZTE and prohibit the modification of any penalties against a Chinese telecommunications firm unless certain conditions are met, but also prohibit the U.S. government from using or procuring equipment from, or entering into a contract with ZTE or Huawei. 

 

Title XVII:  Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018

 

We also thank you for your work protecting our national security and intellectual property by ensuring that foreign countries are not engaged in illicit behavior when investing in the United States.

 

As you are aware, the Senate version of the FY 2019 NDAA includes important reforms to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States that were part of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA).  Those reforms are vital to protecting our national security and preventing intellectual property theft by foreign countries—including the People’s Republic of China. 

 

As you negotiate a conference report for the 2019 NDAA, we urge you to include the Senate-passed CFIUS reforms and ensure that the final language fully addresses our national security and competitiveness concerns.  We believe that efforts to weaken the robust protections in the FIRRMA will embolden our adversaries and present threats to our national security.

 

We thank you for your leadership, and we appreciate your consideration.

 

Sincerely,

  

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Senate Banking and Finance committees, issued the below statement regarding the U.S. Department of Commerce’s agreement to lift the ban on Chinese telecom giant ZTE doing business with American suppliers:

“I share the grave concerns of our military and the intelligence community, which are unanimous in their conclusion that ZTE — a state-controlled company with ties to Chinese intelligence — presents an ongoing threat to our national security. I also share many of the concerns the President has voiced in the past about China’s unfair trade practices, which have cheated American workers and permitted Chinese companies to steal the intellectual property of American firms with virtually no consequences. 

“This sweetheart deal not only ignores these serious issues, it lets ZTE off the hook for evading sanctions against Iran and North Korea with a slap on the wrist.”

 

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WASHINTON- U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee, and Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, urged the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to implement the strongest possible transparency and accountability requirements for online advertisements in response to the proposed rulemaking. The letter comes as the FEC begins public hearings today on online advertisements. 

“During the 2016 election cycle, Russians took advantage of weak online disclaimer and disclosure rules to purchase online political advertisements. As we rapidly approach the 2018 election, intelligence officials have warned that Russia is currently working to disrupt our elections again,” the senators wrote.

“People have a right to know who is behind the information they receive, and in particular who is trying to influence their vote. This necessitates new disclaimer and disclosure requirements for all online advertisements. Primary elections are already upon us and the general election is only 131 days away. Therefore, we encourage you to quickly adopt the strongest possible rule to increase transparency and accountability for online advertisements.” 

Klobuchar, Warner and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) are the authors of the bipartisan Honest Ads Act, legislation to help prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements. The Honest Ads Act would prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite.

The full text of the letter can be found below:

 

Dear Commissioners:

 

As you conduct hearings this week on “Internet Disclaimers and Definition of Public Communication”, we encourage you to issue the strongest possible rule that will increase transparency and accountability for online advertisements.

 

During the 2016 election cycle, Russians took advantage of weak online disclaimer and disclosure rules to purchase online political advertisements. As part of a wide social media exploitation effort, Russia spent at least $100,000 dollars—in rubles—on Facebook ads to influence the 2016 election. According to Facebook responses to investigations by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Senate Judiciary Committee, Russian disinformation reached more than 126 million Americans online.

 

As we rapidly approach the 2018 election, intelligence officials have warned that Russia is currently working to disrupt our elections again. As Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats stated earlier this year, “[t]he 2018 U.S. midterm elections are a potential target for Russian influence operations” and Russia will conduct “bolder and more disruptive cyber operations.”   Senate Intelligence Committee members determined that foreign actors illegally influenced the 2016 presidential election and that something has to be done to stop this from occurring in the future.

 

Online platforms dwarf broadcast, satellite, and cable providers. The largest internet platform has over 210 million American users. The largest cable provider only has 22 million subscribers – nearly an order of magnitude greater. That is why we introduced the Honest Ads Act earlier this year. Our legislation would apply the same rules to online political advertisements that already exist for traditional media and require digital advertisers to maintain a public record of political ads purchased. By requiring the same rules across all advertising platforms, we can limit foreign attempts to influence our elections, increase transparency in political advertising, and promote greater accountability.

 

People have a right to know who is behind the information they receive, and in particular who is trying to influence their vote. This necessitates new disclaimer and disclosure requirements for all online advertisements. Primary elections are already upon us and the general election is only 131 days away. Therefore, we encourage you to quickly adopt the strongest possible rule to increase transparency and accountability for online advertisements.

 

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to President Trump, urging him to re-consider the deal lifting the ZTE ban, and to support the Senate-passed ban on government purchases of ZTE and Huawei equipment. Sen. Warner is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Finance and Banking committees. Sen. Rubio is a member of Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees.  

In the letter to President Trump, the Senators wrote, “The Senate and the U.S. Intelligence Community are in agreement that ZTE poses a significant threat to our national security.  The Senate recently voted 85-10 to reimpose the April sanctions order and the ban on ZTE buying U.S. components, and to prohibit the U.S. federal government from purchasing ZTE or Huawei equipment and contracting with any entity that purchases such equipment.  We urge you to heed the leaders of the U.S. Intelligence Community, supported by a strong bipartisan consensus in the Senate, that we must pursue policies that prevent the widespread use of ZTE products in the U.S.”

The Senators noted that at a February 13, 2018 hearing in the Intelligence Committee, six of the nation’s top intelligence leaders – the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the heads of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Security Agency (NSA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) – testified about the risks posed to U.S. national security by ZTE and Huawei. Additionally, the nation’s top counterintelligence officer, Director of the National Counterintelligence Security Center Bill Evanina, testified at his May 15, 2018, confirmation hearing that Chinese telecom companies such as ZTE and Huawei pose a significant threat to American security.   

“As you know, this is not a new threat. Congressionally documented concerns date back to a 2012 House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report on the serious counterintelligence concerns associated with ZTE equipment, the ties between the company and government, and the risks to American national security,” the Senators added. “ZTE, though publicly traded, is a state-backed enterprise that is ultimately loyal not to its shareholders, but to the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese government.  This patronage relationship poses unacceptable risks to American sovereignty; risks that will only increase if the company is permitted to establish itself deeply in America’s telecommunications infrastructure.”

The full letter is available here and below. 

 

June 26, 2018

 

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC  20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

 

We urge you to reconsider your decision to amend the April ZTE sanctions order and lift the ban the Commerce Department imposed this year that prohibited ZTE from buying U.S. components, and we ask for your support for the Senate-passed ban on the government buying ZTE and Huawei equipment.  We strongly believe that the April sanctions order—which would have threatened ZTE’s survival—should not be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations with China on unrelated matters.  

 

The Senate and the U.S. Intelligence Community are in agreement that ZTE poses a significant threat to our national security.  The Senate recently voted 85-10 to reimpose the April sanctions order and the ban on ZTE buying U.S. components,  and to prohibit the U.S. federal government from purchasing ZTE or Huawei equipment and contracting with any entity that purchases such equipment.  We urge you to heed the leaders of the U.S. Intelligence Community, supported by a strong bipartisan consensus in the Senate, that we must pursue policies that prevent the widespread use of ZTE products in the U.S.

 

At the Senate Intelligence Committee’s hearing on February 13, 2018, six top intelligence leaders testified about the risk of ZTE and Huawei to American national security: 

 

·         FBI Director Wray stated: “We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks that provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure.  It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information, and it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.”  

·         Then-NSA Director Rogers warned:  “I would agree with Director Wray’s characterization here.  This is a challenge I think that's only going to increase, not lessen, over time for us.” To mayors, county judges, university presidents, and state legislatures, “I would say you need to look long and hard at companies like this.”

·         The Director of National Intelligence, and the heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA, DIA, and NGA all indicated they would not use products or services from ZTE or Huawei; nor would they recommend private American citizens do so. 

 

Additionally, the nation’s top counterintelligence officer, Director of the National Counterintelligence Security Center Bill Evanina, testified at his May 15, 2018, confirmation hearing that “the Intelligence Community and law enforcement is clearly on the record, both in the public and in classified settings, with the threat from Chinese telecommunications companies.”

 

As you know, this is not a new threat. Congressionally documented concerns date back to a 2012 House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report on the serious counterintelligence concerns associated with ZTE equipment, the ties between the company and government, and the risks to American national security. 

 

ZTE, though publicly traded, is a state-backed enterprise that is ultimately loyal not to its shareholders, but to the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese government.  This patronage relationship poses unacceptable risks to American sovereignty; risks that will only increase if the company is permitted to establish itself deeply in America’s telecommunications infrastructure.

 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter and for your assistance in ensuring we protect our nation’s future from authoritarian influence.

 

Sincerely,

 

Mark R. Warner

United States Senator

 

Marco Rubio

United States Senator

 

 

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released a statement after Congress approved the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):

 “I’m glad that the Senate was able to work in a bipartisan way to improve national security, support our service members, and strengthen defense readiness.  

“Since the Administration has failed to listen to warnings from their own top intelligence officials about the dangers posed by Chinese telecom company ZTE, this legislation includes a bipartisan amendment – which I co-sponsored – to automatically reinstate trade restrictions on ZTE once this bill is signed into law. Importantly, this legislation would also ensure that neither ZTE nor Huawei will be eligible for government contracts in the future. To further prioritize our national security, I also supported the inclusion of a bipartisan CFIUS bill similar to what we passed in the Banking Committee to ensure that foreign investments in the U.S. do not pose a national security risk. I strongly encourage the Administration to consider the strong bipartisan support for these measures in the Senate before taking any hasty actions. Additionally, this bill urges the Secretaries of State and Defense to dedicate all necessary resources to complete its strategy to counter and deter future cyber aggression by Russia.”  

“This bill also funds several critical priorities important to Virginia’s shipbuilding footprint, including the procurement of two Virginia-class submarines. In addition, this bill pushes further action to make long-overdue investments in our nation’s public shipyards, authorizes more than $260 million towards 14 military construction projects across the Commonwealth, and includes a 2.6 percent raise for members of the armed forces. The NDAA also includes important reforms to modernize our antiquated security clearance system and to reduce the 700,000 person background investigation backlog. Although this bill is far from perfect, I commend my colleagues for passing this critical defense package,” said Sen. Warner.  

Included in the NDAA are three provisions championed by Sen. Warner to address the security clearance backlog:

  • A provision requiring the Director of National Intelligence to improve information sharing regarding government and contract employees;
  • A provision requiring the Director of National Intelligence to provide a report on a clearance-in-person concept to accommodate a more modern mobile workforce;
  • And a provision creating a “rocket” clearance for mission-critical positions that can be processed in 15 days for SECRET and 45 days for TOP SECRET.

In addition, the bill includes a bipartisan amendment sponsored by Sen. Warner and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) that would improve access to cybersecurity scholarships for students at minority-serving institutions. With mounting demand across every industry for trained cyber workers, it’s particularly important that we invest now in developing a diverse cyber workforce. 

Added Sen. Warner, “In order to address the nation’s increased cyber threats from foreign adversaries, this amendment will ensure the nation that the U.S. builds a strong and diverse pipeline of future talent to lead the nation’s strategy in the field of cybersecurity.” 

“Norfolk State University is pleased to support this bipartisan proposal to recruit a more diverse pool of students to pursue cyber education,” said Dr. Melvin T. Stith, Interim President of Norfolk State University. “Strong cyber training and knowledge is essential for preparing students to compete and thrive in a 21st century economy. This effort by Senator Warner is a welcome boost to Norfolk State University's ongoing efforts to produce a talented and representative cyber workforce.” 

The amendment is similar to provision offered by Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) that was included in the House-passed version of the NDAA. The text of the amendment can be found here.

 

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WASHINGTON –U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Senate Banking and Finance Committees, today sent letters to Twitter and Google parent company Alphabet, requesting information about any data sharing agreements between the companies and Chinese vendors. The letter follows a disclosure earlier this week by Facebook that the company has partnerships with Chinese telecom companies including Huawei that allow them to access Facebook users’ non-public data. 

“Since at least October 2012, when the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released its widely-publicized report, the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and equipment makers like Huawei and ZTE has been an area of national security concern. Since then, numerous articles in the tech trade press have focused on concerns by American and allied intelligence agencies that products from Chinese device makers, such as Lenovo, have security vulnerabilities that could allow Chinese intelligence to access data stored on, or transmitted by, devices.  And the New York Times reported in 2016 that firmware found in low-end smartphone devices, such as those of Huawei and ZTE, continually transmitted local data to Chinese severs, potentially for foreign intelligence purposes,” Sen. Warner wrote to the two companies today. 

It is publicly known that Alphabet has entered into strategic partnerships with Chinese mobile device manufacturers, including Huawei and Xiaomi, as well as with Chinese technology platform Tencent. In light of Facebook’s recent revelations, Sen. Warner requested that the company provide information about those partnerships, as well as any other agreements that Alphabet may have entered into with third-party vendors based in China. A similar request was posed to Twitter. 

Sen. Warner’s letter to Alphabet CEO Larry Page is available here. His letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is available here.  

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Senate Banking and Finance Committees, released the following statement regarding the Commerce Department’s agreement with ZTE:

“It is the unanimous conclusion of our nation’s intelligence community that ZTE poses a significant threat to our national security. These concerns aren’t new; back in 2012, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a report on the serious counterintelligence concerns associated with ZTE equipment. 

“It’s not only that ZTE was busted for evading sanctions on Iran and North Korea, and then lied about it; It’s that ZTE is a state-controlled telecommunications company that poses significant espionage risks, which this agreement appears to do little to address.” 

 

###

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after Facebook confirmed the company has data-sharing partnerships with Chinese telecom companies, including Huawei:

“Concerns about Huawei aren’t new – they were widely publicized beginning in 2012, when the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a well-read report on the close relationships between the Chinese Communist Party and equipment makers like Huawei. The news that Facebook provided privileged access to Facebook’s API to Chinese device makers like Huawei and TCL raises legitimate concerns, and I look forward to learning more about how Facebook ensured that information about their users was not sent to Chinese servers.” 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Senate Banking Committee, released the following statement regarding the reported ZTE agreement lifting the Commerce Department ban:

 “If these reports are accurate, this is a huge mistake. ZTE poses a threat to our national security. That’s not just my opinion – it’s the unanimous conclusion of our intelligence community.”

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and cofounder of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, released the following statement after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Commerce issued a joint report on how the federal government can combat botnets and other threats to the internet ecosystem:

“This report concludes that current market incentives do too little to promote security in internet-connected products, corroborating a longstanding concern I have had with the burgeoning market of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The failure of these market forces to reward security over cost or convenience has led to devastating DDoS attacks (like the Mirai botnet) that contribute to internet-wide insecurity to this day.

“I am pleased to see the Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security acknowledge that the federal government should lead by example by requiring the acquisition of far more secure and resilient services and products; Congress should take the next step and pass bipartisan legislation I have introduced with Sen. Gardner that would set minimum security requirements for federal procurements of IoT devices.” 

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Senate Banking and Finance Committees, released the following statement regarding the Trump administration’s deal on ZTE:

“This would be a big mistake. President Trump should listen to the advice of his intelligence leaders, who have unanimously said that ZTE poses a national security threat to the United States.” 

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined a group of bipartisan Senators in sending a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, the Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, urging the Administration to protect national security interests when negotiating the U.S.-China trade relationship. This comes after President Trump has publicly pledged to lift a seven-year ban on American firms doing business with Chinese telecom company ZTE.

“There can be no question that China seeks to surpass the U.S. both economically and militarily and become the world’s foremost superpower, and neither the Federal Government nor private U.S. companies should aid and abet that effort,” the Senators wrote.  “As such, we implore you to reject any proposal to soften restrictions on the transfer to China of U.S.-made military technologies and advanced dual-use technologies, including semiconductors." 

“We urge you not to compromise lawful U.S. enforcement actions against serial and pre-meditated violators of U.S. law, such as ZTE.  This is particularly critical when the violators are state-owned and -influenced, part and parcel of China’s policies and practices designed to strengthen its own national security innovation base, and essential tools of efforts to spread China’s influence in other countries that pose national security threats to the United States. Export control and sanctions laws should not be negotiable, because fidelity to the rule of law is a key part of what distinguishes the U.S. from a country like China that is ruled by a Communist dictatorship,” the Senators concluded.

As the Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Warner has publicly voiced his concern that rolling back trade restrictions on Chinese telecom company ZTE would pose significant national security risks to the United States. Last week, Sen. Warner joined a group of 34 Senators urging President Trump not reverse trade restrictions on ZTE. 

In addition to Sen. Warner, the letter was signed by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), John Cornyn (R-TX), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Steve Daines (R-MT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mike Rounds (R-SD), John Thune (R-SD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Bob Casey (D-PA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bill Nelson (D-FL), David Perdue (R-GA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Angus King (I-ME)

 

Full text of the letter can be found below.

 

The Honorable Steven Mnuchin        

Secretary of the Treasury             

U.S. Department of the Treasury   

1500 Pennsylvania Ave., NW     

Washington, DC  20220              

 

The Honorable Wilbur Ross

Secretary of Commerce              

U.S. Department of Commerce

1401 Constitution Ave., NW     

Washington, DC  20230             

 

The Honorable Robert E. Lighthizer

U.S. Trade Representative

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

600 17th St., NW        

Washington, DC 20508

 

Dear Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Ross, and Ambassador Lighthizer:

 

As you work to secure a fair and equitable trading and investment relationship with China for the American people, we write to express serious concerns over reports that China, in the ongoing negotiations, is pushing for access to U.S.-made military technologies and advanced dual-use technologies.  We strongly support these critical negotiations to rebalance the U.S.-China economic relationship, but U.S. national security must remain the paramount consideration.  Therefore, we strongly urge you to reject any proposal by China to loosen existing restrictions on the export or other transfer of these sensitive U.S. technologies.  Any such move would bolster China’s aggressive military modernization and significantly undermine long-term U.S. national security interests.  

 

We agree with General Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that within seven years, China will pose the greatest threat to U.S. national security of any nation.  Likewise, we concur with the Department of Defense’s most recent report on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” which states that “China’s military modernization is targeting capabilities with the potential to degrade core U.S. military-technological advantages.  To support this modernization, China uses a variety of methods to acquire foreign military and dual-use technologies . . . .  Several cases emerged in 2016 of China using its intelligence services, and employing other illicit approaches that violate U.S. laws and export controls, to obtain national security and export-restricted technologies, controlled equipment, and other materials.” 

 

Clearly, the Chinese Communist Party regards these sensitive technologies as essential for China’s military modernization and is accelerating its efforts to acquire such technologies through both legal and illegal means, including cyber theft, civil-military integration policies, coercion through joint ventures with foreign companies, targeted investment, and exploitation of the access of private Chinese nationals to such technologies.  We must guard against such efforts and remain vigilant in protecting our national security innovation base. 

 

As you know, export controls are designed to protect national security.  The relaxing of these or other technology transfer restrictions would directly contradict and undermine key parts of President Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy (NSS).  The NSS states that, “China and Russia . . . are fielding military capabilities designed to deny America access in times of crisis and to contest our ability to operate freely in critical commercial zones during peacetime.  In short, they are contesting our geopolitical advantages and trying to change the international order in their favor.”

 

There can be no question that China seeks to surpass the U.S. both economically and militarily and become the world’s foremost superpower, and neither the Federal Government nor private U.S. companies should aid and abet that effort.  As such, we implore you to reject any proposal to soften restrictions on the transfer to China of U.S.-made military technologies and advanced dual-use technologies, including semiconductors.  We do support a balanced and constructive relationship with China, but one that is clear-eyed about China’s predatory, comprehensive efforts to acquire sensitive technologies that would increase the risk China poses to the United States and our allies in the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere.  

 

In addition, we urge you not to compromise lawful U.S. enforcement actions against serial and pre-meditated violators of U.S. law, such as ZTE.  This is particularly critical when the violators are state-owned and -influenced, part and parcel of China’s policies and practices designed to strengthen its own national security innovation base, and essential tools of efforts to spread China’s influence in other countries that pose national security threats to the United States.  Export control and sanctions laws should not be negotiable, because fidelity to the rule of law is a key part of what distinguishes the U.S. from a country like China that is ruled by a Communist dictatorship. 

 

Thank you for your attention to these concerns. 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

CC:  The Honorable James N. Mattis, Secretary of Defense

        The Honorable Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State

         The Honorable John Bolton, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

 

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and co-founder of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, released the following statement after the White House eliminated the role of Cybersecurity Coordinator on the National Security Council, a position created to harmonize the federal government’s approach to cybersecurity and digital warfare:  

“It’s frankly mindboggling that the Trump Administration has eliminated the top White House official responsible for a whole-of-government cyber strategy, at a time when the cyber threat to our nation is greater than ever. Our adversaries are investing heavily in 21st century cyber warfare capabilities, and if we only view national security through a conventional 20th century lens, we’re going to find ourselves unable to respond to increasingly asymmetric cyber threats down the road.”
 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined a group of 33 Senators calling on the Trump Administration to put American jobs and national security ahead of China. The Senators wrote a letter to the Administration in response to President Trump’s announcement that he has directed the Department of Commerce to look at easing penalties imposed on China-based company ZTE for violations that include selling sensitive U.S. technologies to Iran and North Korea in violation of U.S. sanctions laws.

“Offering to trade American sanctions enforcement to promote jobs in China is plainly a bad deal for American workers and for the security of all Americans,” the Senators wrote. “American workers and companies confront rampant theft of U.S. intellectual property, agricultural policies that disadvantage American farmers, restrictions on market access for U.S. service providers and manufacturers, and mercantilist industrial policies that have cost U.S. workers their jobs.  America’s policies toward China should put American workers, farmers and businesses first, not China’s.”

“We urge you to focus on identifying effective strategies to reshape China’s policy approach in each of these areas, such as through enforceable commitments to eliminate forced technology transfer policies, market distorting subsidies, data localization policies, and foreign investment restrictions, and ensuring nondiscriminatory treatment of U.S. firms in regulatory and other proceedings. Above all, we urge you to remain steadfast in enforcing America’s laws,” the Senators concluded.  

In addition to Sens. Warner and Kaine, the letter was signed by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA) , Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). 

The full text of the letter can be found below:

Dear Mr. President:

Your recent remarks directing Secretary Ross to help ZTE – a Chinese company that has repeatedly sold sensitive U.S. technologies to Iran and North Korea in clear violation of American sanctions laws – call into grave doubt whether this administration will put American jobs and national security first.

If acted upon, your instruction would reverse a law enforcement decision by Secretary Ross to impose a seven-year denial of export privileges on ZTE, setting aside that decision made in the interests of U.S. national security to cushion the employment impact on the Chinese company.  ZTE not only violated US sanctions law but then repeatedly lied about steps it would take to remedy the problems. As Secretary Ross noted when he imposed the order, “ZTE made false statements to the U.S. Government when they were originally caught and put on the Entity List, made false statements during the reprieve it was given, and made false statements again during its probation. ZTE misled the Department of Commerce.  Instead of reprimanding ZTE staff and senior management, ZTE rewarded them. This egregious behavior cannot be ignored.” 

In addition to paying a fine of $1.2 billion, and pleading guilty to knowingly violating U.S. sanctions laws, ZTE agreed to a multi-year denial of export privileges, to be activated if any aspect of the agreement was not met and/or if the company committed additional violations of US export control regulations. Prompted by new violations, Commerce imposed the denial.

America’s national security must not be used as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations.  Offering to trade American sanctions enforcement to promote jobs in China is plainly a bad deal for American workers and for the security of all Americans. Bargaining away law enforcement power over bad actors such as ZTE undermines the historically sharp distinction between sanctions and export control enforcement and routine trade decisions made by the US.

Your order comes as your administration is in the midst of discussions with China to address China’s market-distorting policies and other tactics to undermine key American industries. Beyond appearing to risk American national security, the statement suggests that the administration is not serious about addressing the many economic challenges China presents.  The devastating effects of China’s trade policies are clear.  As your top trade negotiator recognized in his trade report on China less than six months ago, to address the “very serious and harmful problems generated by China’s trade regime”, China must “truly embrace a market-oriented approach, rooted in the fundamental WTO principles of non-discrimination, market access, reciprocity, fairness and transparency.”  There is no evidence that China has agreed to such a shift in approach.

American workers and companies confront rampant theft of U.S. intellectual property, agricultural policies that disadvantage American farmers, restrictions on market access for U.S. service providers and manufacturers, and mercantilist industrial policies that have cost U.S. workers their jobs.  America’s policies toward China should put American workers, farmers and businesses first, not China’s.

We urge you to focus on identifying effective strategies to reshape China’s policy approach in each of these areas, such as through enforceable commitments to eliminate forced technology transfer policies, market distorting subsidies, data localization policies, and foreign investment restrictions, and ensuring nondiscriminatory treatment of U.S. firms in regulatory and other proceedings. Above all, we urge you to remain steadfast in enforcing America’s laws.  

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – During a hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today to consider the nomination of Bill Evanina to serve as the nation’s top counterintelligence official, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), the Committee’s Vice Chairman, voiced concern that rolling back trade restrictions on Chinese telecom company ZTE would pose significant national security risks to the United States.

In recent days, President Trump has publicity expressed his desire to reverse trade restrictions placed on the company for violating sanctions on Iran and North Korea. 

“On the question of counterintelligence with China, a number of members of this committee have raised concerns about certain Chinese telecom companies and their penetration into the American market. I was actually pleased that the President acted on one of those companies, ZTE. Now it appears that that is simply a bargaining chip in negotiations with China. I don’t think that is the appropriate way,” said Sen. Warner during the nomination hearing. 

“If this is a security threat, then it is a security threat and needs to be dealt with as such — not as a bargaining chip in greater trade negotiations,” added Sen. Warner.

On Sunday, May 13 Trump tweeted, “President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!” The next day, Trump followed with another tweet: “ZTE, the large Chinese phone company, buys a big percentage of individual parts from U.S. companies. This is also reflective of the larger trade deal we are negotiating with China and my personal relationship with President Xi.”

Earlier today, Sen. Warner joined a group of 34 Senators urging President Trump not to reverse trade restrictions on ZTE.

 

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WASHINGTON— U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) today called on Twitter and Alphabet, Inc., the parent company of Google, to implement stronger transparency and accountability standards for online political advertisements. Specifically, the Senators called on the companies to voluntarily implement the provisions in the Honest Ads Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Klobuchar, Warner and John McCain (R-AZ) that would require online political advertisements to abide by the same disclosure rules as television and radio ads. 

Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election by buying and placing political ads on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. However, Americans had no way of knowing who was behind the ads, because, unlike radio and television ads, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has exempted large swathes of online ads from general requirements to include disclaimers about who is responsible for the content, and platforms are not required to make public information about political ad purchases as cable, satellite, and broadcast providers must.

“This lack of transparency has dangerous implications for our democracy. As we saw in the 2016 presidential election, foreign actors can seek to influence the electorate without voters’ knowledge through online political advertising,” wrote Sens. Warner and Klobuchar in a pair of letters today to Alphabet CEO Larry Page and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. 

On Friday, April 6, Facebook announced that it would endorse and implement the disclosure requirements outlined in the Honest Ads Act. In today’s letters, Sens. Warner and Klobuchar asked Google and Twitter to do the same. 

“The Honest Ads Act would apply analogous rules to online political advertisements that currently exist in traditional media, bringing long-overdue transparency to the opaque market of online political advertising. It would extend existing disclaimer obligations that print, broadcast, and cable ads must already meet to analogous political ads disseminated on online platforms… And it would require digital platforms to maintain a public record of political ads purchased by an advertiser who spends more than $500 in any 12 month period,” wrote the Senators. “Lastly, it requires that all advertising platforms – whether broadcast, radio or digital – make reasonable efforts to ensure that the prohibition on foreign nationals attempting to influence our elections through donations, expenditures or other things of value is not violated. These measures not only increase transparency in political advertising, but also promote accountability – both of platforms and of political advertisers.” 

To read the Senators’ letter to Alphabet CEO Larry Page, click here. To read their letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, click here.