The U.S. government’s offensive against counterfeit electronics components has made progress in recent weeks. The U.S. Department of Justice recently announced a second successful prosecution of a dealer of counterfeit electronics parts. (See: Anatomy of a Counterfeit Electronics Operation). Another segment of the government has commended the use of unique identifiers in its ongoing battle to keep the national supply chain safe.
The U.S. House of Representatives has commended the use of DNA-based authentication in the funding bill for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), according to a release by Applied DNA Sciences. The NASA Authorization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4412) follows the path first dictated for the Department of Defense in its 2012 funding bill, requiring suppliers to bring online anti-counterfeiting systems.
Clauses in the NASA bill follow closely the intent of the anti-counterfeiting language in Section 818 of the Defense Department funding law, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.
Like the Defense Department bill, suppliers are liable for costs of rework and remediation if it is found that they supplied counterfeit parts to the Agency.
In one section of the bill, the House commends NASA, saying "The Committee... is encouraged by NASA's proactive efforts to mitigate counterfeit electronic part intrusion into the supply chain, including efforts at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to utilize deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) authentication marking on items which have been determined to be at high risk for counterfeiting."
NASA’s JPL has received training by Applied DNA Sciences, the developer of plant-based DNA marking, as part of its effort to assess the latest ideas and technologies related to counterfeit risk mitigation.
It is the second recent instance of an explicit mention by Congress citing DNA marking as an example of ongoing anti-counterfeiting technology. In May, the House called on the Department Of Defense to report on its anti-counterfeiting efforts, including DNA marking by the Defense Logistics Agency.
The use of DNA marking technology, however, has raised questions within the electronics supply chain. The use and licensing of DNA technology is not limited to the authorized supply chain in the electronics industry. Authorized distributors, for example, buy their components directly from original component makers (OCM) factories and can guarantee devices are authentic. Non-authorized distributors may buy parts in the open market where the traceability of components is less direct. Authorized distributors fear non-authorized sources may mark parts as authentic even if they are not.
The Senate version of the NASA Authorization Act differs from that passed by the House. The versions will be reconciled later this year.
Applied DNA Sciences officials pointed out that the spread of strict anti-counterfeiting legislation to NASA can only add to the growing impetus to protect the supply chain against the counterfeit crisis, and underlined the urgency of the adoption of anti-counterfeiting solutions.
Dr. James A. Hayward, President and CEO of Applied DNA Sciences stated: “We are encouraged by the steady reference to DNA marking by our federal legislators and within federal agencies. This is truly a technology with the power to protect American assets and American lives.”