Congress must prevent fake goods from entering military supply chains

Bob Calvert Contributor
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On Monday, we will all gather with family and friends to celebrate the 235th anniversary of American independence. We are also joining together to honor our veterans, past and present, who have fought through blood and toil to ensure we can all be free. Our veterans have battled to protect the nature and spirit of American ideals — sacrificing their lives for our freedom.

American armed forces have achieved tremendous success, mainly because of technological advances that allow them to do their jobs. While our soldiers serve to protect Americans at home and abroad, a new threat has evolved in the last decade — criminals infiltrating the military supply chain with counterfeit goods.

In fact, the Government Accountability Office has reported that fake goods are working their way into government supply chains, including the Department of Defense’s. How horrible would it be for these counterfeit parts to lead to catastrophic equipment failure during a mission? Don’t our war fighters face enough hazards already?

In January 2010, a U.S. Department of Commerce study of the military component supply chain for Defense Department agencies found that the number of counterfeit electronics entering the system increased from 3,868 incidents to 9,356 between 2005 and 2008. The study was conducted because Defense Department officials were worried that more and more counterfeit and defective electronics were finding their way into the Pentagon’s vast supply chain in ways that could affect the reliability of weapons. Unfortunately, this is the grim reality that we must confront. This situation is confounded by the availability of counterfeit products through rogue websites.

Rogue websites steal American intellectual property and are dedicated to trafficking counterfeit products and digital theft. They dupe consumers, steal our jobs and threaten the vibrant Internet marketplace. If given the opportunity, rogue websites will sell military components and electronics to make a quick buck.

Fortunately, Congress is taking steps to provide new tools against these illicit activities and help protect the jobs of hardworking Americans and the vitality of our creative and innovative sectors. The PROTECT IP Act would cut off rogue sites from the U.S. marketplace by disrupting the flow of Internet traffic and money to the site and its operators. Congress should act to protect American jobs, creativity and consumers by enacting this legislation without delay.

We cannot pay tribute to our country and those who stand up for our country without protecting property rights in both the physical and the online marketplaces. The Internet, like all marketplaces, needs rules to protect people from fraud and theft. The PROTECT IP Act is a balanced approach that will help crack down on truly rogue sites while facilitating the continued growth of the Internet as a safe, vibrant marketplace. We must preserve the American ideals of ingenuity, hard work and inventiveness that were set forth by the founders of our great Republic.

Bob Calvert is the founder and host of the Talking with Heroes Talk Show Program, which is based in Colorado Springs. Visit the Talking with Heroes website and Facebook page to learn more.