Mikolaj Barczentewicz Discusses Policy Solutions to Supply Chain Security for Commercial Technology Originating in China

On October 16, 2019, Oxford University's Centre for Technology and Global Affairs Research Associate Mikolaj Barczentewicz discussed policy solutions to supply chain security in the case of commercial technology originating in China but also more broadly. Barczentewicz began by clarifying what exactly is the problem of supply chain security, using an array of examples including the infamous case of NSA intercepting and modifying Cisco equipment en route to international clients. Using the same logic, he argued that it is not an exaggeration to claim that China has both the intention and the capabilities to establish channels of espionage and intelligence gathering via traded technology.

Barczentewicz presented two policy solutions for supply chain security that are being discussed among academics and policymakers: decoupling and regulation. Decoupling, the more popular policy narrative, denotes a “cold war” over technology as actors are trapped in a vicious security dilemma of distrust in which each side focuses on developing its offensive capabilities and, as a result, creates further distrust. While decoupling may be effective, Mikolaj warned that it can be extremely expensive and create a hostile international environment in cyberspace. The alternative solution is effective regulation, either through systematic certification or ad hoc regulation. He offered a number of different case studies across the board, ranging from the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre in the United Kingdom to the EU Cybersecurity Act, to provide a comprehensive overview of developments made in this policy sphere. He ended his presentation with various open questions concerning the practical, legal, and diplomatic challenges facing both types of policy solutions.

Mikolaj Barczentewicz is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Public Law and Legal Theory at the University of Surrey School of Law and a Research Associate of Oxford University's Centre for Technology and Global Affairs. He works on legal and ethical issues associated with new technologies (in particular, artificial intelligence). He previously taught at Oxford University. Mikolaj studied law and philosophy at Oxford University and at the University of Warsaw. Before his graduate studies at Oxford, he was a lawyer specializing in EU law and regulation in the Warsaw office of DZP, a leading law firm, and also a law and policy expert at the FOR Foundation, a prominent Polish NGO founded by Professor Leszek Balcerowicz.