By Erik Telford
Jeh Johnson, the recently confirmed secretary of Homeland Security, faces the daunting task of overseeing American counterterrorism operations at home and abroad.
HERE’S YOUR CHANCE: A hearing Wednesday will be a golden opportunity for Jeh Johnson to take a strong stand on combating IP theft and enforcing our laws that protect content creators.
But a rarely discussed aspect of Johnson’s job extends beyond defending our country from al Qaeda, as the Department of Homeland Security also has the power to actively combat counterfeiting and other forms of intellectual property theft that threaten American innovation.
Johnson will appear in front of the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, and with the committee planning to question him on DHS’s vision for the future, the hearing will be a golden opportunity for the secretary to take a strong stand on combating IP theft and enforcing our laws that protect content creators.
DHS has an encouraging but spotty history of cracking down on digital IP theft, alternating successful anti-counterfeiting operations with disappointing periods of silence. The department’s past highlights include Operation In Our Sites, which busted and seized more than 150 fraudulent websites selling counterfeit merchandise during the 2011 Christmas shopping season.
These types of sting operations send a strong message to businesses and cyber-criminals alike that the federal government is serious about protecting the rights of copyright holders.
As Johnson articulates his vision to the House committee, it’s critical that he tie IP enforcement and anti-counterfeiting operations to our country’s broader economic security. America’s status as an economic superpower requires a climate that allows businesses to grow, thrive and innovate, and by affirming DHS will act within its powers to remove criminal threats to this climate, Johnson can help keep his country on the economic upswing.
Erik Telford is senior vice president of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.