Not Politics As Usual

Thursday, Nov 10, 2011, 12:00am

by Semiconductor Industry Association

On a regular day on Capitol Hill the partisan rhetoric is at full volume, but yesterday was not a regular day.

SIA was asked by the Senate Armed Services Committee to testify on their investigation into counterfeit electronics infiltrating their way into the Department of Defense (DOD) supply chain.

The hearing was probably different than most. Instead of politics as usual, the hearing offered a chance to see our elected officials, citizens and government officials putting their heads together to identify and solve a very troubling problem; counterfeit semiconductors.

As one of the witnesses at the hearing, I testified on the dangers of counterfeit electronics and the semiconductors they are built on. While the questions were at times challenging, I got the real sense that Senators from both sides of the aisle had put aside their differences and were all committed to working collaboratively with industry to halt the flow of counterfeit semiconductors into the United States.

Counterfeit semiconductors are an especially troubling problem because when they make their way into mission-critical systems like medical devices, automotive safety systems and airplanes, lives of American citizens and our military are at risk. And it was encouraging to hear that all of the Senators at yesterday’s hearing had a clear understanding of the dangers that counterfeit electronics pose to Americans.

The recent VisionTech case proves just how close to danger our citizens have come. Counterfeit semiconductors sold in this case were destined for the naval vessel and land-based Identification Friend or Foe system, the Harm Testing System used by F-16s to track hostile radar systems, an application in the U.S. Navy Cobra Judy Replacement Program, and to control the braking system in high speed trains.

This is a very real and very alarming problem. American’s lives are at risk every time a counterfeit semiconductor makes its way into one of these highly-complex systems and it is my hope that with the bipartisan support of both the House and the Senate we will be able to implement real solutions to stem the rising tide of dangerous counterfeit semiconductors.