Florida governor signs bill to protect universities from espionage

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Florida governor signs bill to protect universities from espionage

Republican governor of Florida,. On Tuesday, Ron DeSantis signed a bill to protect different higher education institutions in the state from espionage and intellectual property theft by the Communist Party.

Known as HB 7017, the bill requires more transparency and disclosure from scientists, technicians and administrators on postsecondary support for foreign institutions. It also increases the scrutiny on research grant proposals.

Make no mistake — China is a hostile foreign power and every Governor has the responsibility to protect their education system and every other entity within their scopes from the espionage and commercial theft undertaken by the Chinese Communist Party, DeSantis said in a statement.

DeSantis' bill requires universities to reveal foreign donations and grants of $50,000 or more.

A separate bill would send an individual to prison for as many as five years for stealing or attempting to steal trade secrets without authorization. The punishment for someone wanting to sell stolen trade secrets is as many as 15 years. Penalties for foreign governments increase.

Conservatives have raised concerns about the influence of the United States Communist Party on the Chinese school systems.

Earlier this year the US Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. proposed an amendment that would have barred federal funds from China's Confucius Institutes that partner with the U.S. schools. It was blocked by House Democrats in February.

Stefanik's effort comes after the Biden administration withdrew a rule that forced schools participating in certain federal programs to disclose ties to Confucius Institutes, which has been accused of propagating Communist China's viewpoints in U.S. classrooms.

During an interview with FOX Business in September, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested that the institutes could have been used to recruit spies on college campuses.

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