To protect against cybersecurity vulnerabilities and exploitation of Americans’ data, President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Sept. 15 directing the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS (pronounced “sif-ee-us” by foreign investment watchers), to consider scrutinizing foreign investments through the lens of national security risks.
“Everybody recognizes the need to protect U.S. national security. But as Congress and the administration consider new tools, like an outbound investment review regime, it is critical that they get real input from the business community and be precise in what they’re trying to cover,” Rory Murphy, vice president of Government Affairs at the US-China Business Council, told Protocol yesterday.
The oft-stated mission of ensuring U.S. leadership in emerging tech is at the heart of this potential shift. During a press briefing, a senior administration official listed a “handful of priority emerging and critical technologies, like semiconductors, quantum technologies, biotechnology, and artificial intelligence, as well as supply chain considerations” as areas where investment reviews could happen.
The elephant in the room here is China, a country “of special concern” that has tech strategies that many in U.S. government believe threaten U.S. leadership in areas related to national security.
But because AI is intertwined with all industries and the technologies they use, AI deals could be subject to excessive review if a CFIUS rule is written too broadly. “How AI is defined will be important in determining what types of transactions are covered,” Murphy said.
A version of this story appeared in Friday's Enterprise newsletter. Sign up here to get it in your inbox each morning.