Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bills to fight foreign influence

'We've got to start fighting back,' governor says
Posted at 10:49 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 23:22:34-04

MIAMI — Sitting at a table at the Florida National Guard Armory in Miami, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed two bills aimed, in part, at China.

"All we're saying is enough is enough. We've got to start fighting back," he said.

The first bill signed, HB 7017, is aimed at preventing China, Russia, Iran and four other countries from having what the governor called undue foreign influence in public institutions.

"These bills I'm signing into law today, foreign adversaries will not have access to or schools, government and companies like they have in the past," he said.

RELATED: Florida cracking down on Communist Party of China influence, governor says

The second bill, HB 1523, combats corporate espionage.

"It creates new criminal offenses in Florida for the theft and trafficking of trade secrets," DeSantis said.

In a nutshell the new law upgrades penalties for theft of intellectual property.

Internet security expert Alan Crowetz said there is a growing impact of cybercriminals in recent ransomware attacks, including those believed to have come from Russia.

"It is extremely devastating. We saw it take out a pipeline, now a meat market, hitting government cities left and right," he said. "Wait till it takes out a power company permanently. Wait till it takes out a nuclear power plant."

Crowetz, the president and CEO of InfoStream, Inc., said the challenge may come in trying to prosecute the attackers.

"How are you going to get the guys?" he said. "You can be a teenager in Timbuktu who can write this program and blast it out. It takes a lot of work at having a shot at finding this person, and the odds are the best experts might not be able to find that person."

Some of the governor's strongest comments were targeted at China.

Critics, including Winnie Tang of the Asian American Federation of Florida, worry the new policies in Florida will add to a rise in Anti-Asian sentiments seen nationwide.

"It's race profiling against those countries that were listed on this law," Tang said.