This West Is OUR West

Trump Prepares Executive Orders to Supercharge 5G, AI


Jessica Lyons Hardcastle | February 7, 2019

President Donald Trump is preparing a series of executive orders to ramp up 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), and other advanced technologies in the U.S.

While Trump briefly alluded to “investments in the cutting-edge industries of the future,” during Tuesday’s State of the Union address, the Wall Street Journal reports that a larger effort is underway. This could include allocating more federal government resources to advance AI and encouraging new private companies to get into the 5G race, the report says, citing administration officials.

Trump “will ensure … that the American innovation ecosystem remains the envy of the world for generations to come,” Michael Kratsios, a top White House technology policy aide, said in a statement.

The president’s commitment comes as the U.S. is getting increasingly competive against China when it comes to 5G and AI — and has expressed growing security concerns about using Chinese companies’ telecom gear. The U.S. and other Western European governments are considering laws to ban equipment from Huawei and ZTE. And on Wednesday the top U.S. cybersecurity official warned nations that buying Huawei’s 5G networking products would allow China to expand its surveillance state around much of the globe.

Speaking on Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, Rob Strayer, the deputy assistant secretary for cyber and international communications and information policy, said China could use Huawei’s massive 5G networking presence to steal “trillions” of dollars of intellectual property, according to the Washington Post. It would also use this equipment attack adversaries’ networks, deploying malware or even shutting them down.

While security concerns about China using networking gear to steal government secrets and companies’ IP isn’t new, the Trump administration has been ramping up the pressure on Chinese firms in recent months.

Last week the U.S. Justice Department charged Huawei and its CFO with conspiring to violate sanctions on Iran. And, in a separate grand jury indictment, Huawei was accused of stealing robotic technology from T-Mobile US.

A month earlier the Justice Department charged two Chinese state-sponsored hackers that it says infiltrated managed service provider networks and stole companies’ intellectual property and sensitive data.