Prepared Floor Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley
On Legislation to Increase Information Sharing and Stop Counterfeits
April 20, 2021
I want to talk about counterfeits and the need for the Federal government to modernize its approach to information sharing.
Counterfeits pose a danger to the health and safety of consumers. They also infringe on U.S. intellectual property rights and unfairly benefit international criminals. This will come as no surprise to anyone.
The majority of fake goods come from China and Hong Kong. And, the United States? Well, we are the biggest loser when it comes to IP-related crime and activity.
Unfortunately, the problem of counterfeits has only gotten worse during the pandemic. Americans have increasingly turned to e-commerce to buy goods like personal protective equipment, household products and cleaners, children’s toys and so on.
Criminals use the same e-commerce sites to sell their bogus goods. These sites give criminals an air of legitimacy, and make it harder for law enforcement to catch them. E-commerce sites also let criminals create multiple product listings that can trick consumers into purchasing fake goods.
When there is money to be made, criminals will find ways to profit at the expense of others—even in the event of a global pandemic. However, there is some good news. We have ways of addressing the problem.
Last week, I introduced legislation that will give U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) more authority to share information with rights holders and other interested parties on suspected counterfeit merchandise. This is an issue I first identified as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, when I investigated counterfeit goods sold online.
During this investigation, I discovered that certain U.S. laws prevent CBP from sharing key pieces of information with its private sector partners. As a result, it’s harder for CBP and its private sector partners to detect and disrupt counterfeiting networks.
To give credit where it’s due, CBP has recognized this problem and is taking steps to rectify it through the 21 Century Customs Framework (21CCF) to improve data sharing capabilities in real-time. However, without statutory authority from Congress, in some ways CBP has one hand tied behind its back.
My bill will get rid of some of these barriers for CBP. It is one small but crucial step towards a more secure supply chain. Sharing information is a simple solution that often gets overlooked. It can be an effective tool in creating a comprehensive strategy against counterfeit activity. I hope my colleagues will join me in making this legislative fix so that we may create a supply chain that addresses 21st century problems.