Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee are in the middle of proposing a new cybertheft law that would target hackers based in other countries, according to Reuters.
The bill, which doesn't yet have a name, is to be introduced on Thursday by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc). These lawmakers have said that the intent of the law will be to go after hackers from "offending nations" and deliver "real consequences and punishments."
Of those countries said to be cyber spying on the U.S. and possibly stealing data from the government and various companies are China, Russia, Iran, and others.
"Cyber hackers from nation-states like China and Russia have been aggressively targeting U.S. markets, stealing valuable intellectual property, and then repurposing it and selling it as their own," Rogers' office said while announcing plans for the bill's introduction, according to Reuters.
China has bared the brunt of the most recent cyberattack accusations. After The New York Times admitted in January to being the victim of a lengthy hack that it believed was propagated by the Chinese government to spy on its journalists, The Wall Street Journal, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and dozens of other companies and news sources said their sites were hacked too, most likely by the same source.
A study by Mandiant published in February linked China's People's Liberation Army to the large number of cyberattacks. And in March, the Obama administration demanded that China end its "unprecedented" campaign of cyberespionage, warning that the hacking activity threatened to derail efforts to build stronger ties between the two countries.
The news of the upcoming cybertheft bill comes on the eve of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the U.S. According to Reuters, President Obama plans to discuss China's alleged cyberattacks on the U.S. with Xi.
A group of senators proposed a similar bill called the "Deter Cyber Theft Act" last month. The goal of this legislation is to protect commercial data from foreign hackers and governments. If passed, this law would require that an annual report be written to list the countries involved in cyberespionage and highlight the worst offenders.