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Rubio Introduces Bills to Counter Growing Threat of China’s Collection of American’s Genomic Data

May 20, 2021 | Comunicados de Prensa

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced two bills to counter the growing threat caused by the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to collect American’s genomic data through both legal and illegal means. Rubio has been a leading voice in addressing this critical security and privacy issue.  
“There is no reason for American taxpayers to be funding Beijing’s research or for our policies to enable access to American’s genomic data,” Rubio said. “It’s imperative that Congress take steps to confront this growing national security and privacy threat.”
El Genomics Expenditures and National Security Enhancement (GENE) Act, cosponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), would: 

  • Increase congressional oversight by requiring the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to include the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in its briefings. 
  • Direct CFIUS to rewrite its regulations to require mandatory filing for any deal that involves a company working with genetic information. 
  • Require that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) be consulted on any deal that involves a genetic data transaction — this will increase cross-agency awareness of transactions of concern.

El Genomics Data Security Act would:  

  • Modernize the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) approach to national security by requiring that the NIH prioritize national security considerations when developing and executing their NIH-Wide Strategic Plan.
  • Prohibit any NIH funding from going to support entities with direct ties to the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
  • Update licensure requirements to account for national security considerations. The bill would require that every Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments Act certificate specify if a company with access to Americans’ health data is directly tied to the Government of the People’s Republic of China.  
  • Require that the NIH report to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence an annual accounting on the status of ongoing investigations into ties to foreign governments that are not properly disclosed, vetted, and approved with researchers funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.
  • Require an update to the NIH’s Genomic Data Sharing Policy and convene a working group across federal, private, and academic entities to develop and disseminate best practices to ensure that research institutions are better able to navigate and address national security risks with regard to data-sharing.