Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, aka TSMC, has vowed to protect sensitive client information as it prepares to respond to a recent US government request. The Biden administration has requested the biggest stakeholders of the semiconductor industry to disclose information on their supply chains amid an unprecedented global chip shortage. All major chip manufacturers and electronics makers are having to provide details on their respective supply chains. TSMC, which is the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer, is now working on a way to do so without compromising sensitive client information, Nikkei Asia reports.
According to the report, the US government is asking for various information from semiconductor companies. This includes information on “inventories, production capacity, and who their key customers are for specific products.”
Among other things, the companies need to provide the names of the top three customers for each of their products. They also need to mention the “percentage of that product’s sales accounted for by each customer.”
The White House is further asking semiconductor companies to disclose information about the product that has the largest order backlog. Last but not least, the companies are being asked to provide details on the sales of those products. The Biden administration has sent this questionnaire to all major “semiconductor manufacturers, chip developers, and packaging and testing service providers.”
US government is asking for sensitive supply chain information from TSMC and other companies
The White House request has sparked concerns among the likes of TSMC. The information that the Biden administration is asking for may contain some “highly sensitive” trade secrets. But the Taiwanese company believes it can work out a way to address the questionnaire while keeping sensitive information confidential.
“We will definitely not leak our company’s sensitive information, especially that related to our customers,” said Sylvia Fang, TSMC’s general counsel. “We are still at the stage of doing some preliminary research and evaluating the contents of the questionnaire.”
Fang further added that the US government is preparing an FAQ as many companies have questions regarding this request. “We are waiting for that [FAQ] too,” she said. Companies have until November 8 to voluntarily send in the requested information. However, if they do not respond to the request voluntarily, the US government may use a “Cold War-era national security law” to forcefully obtain the information it wants, the report suggests.
“What I told them is, ‘I don’t want to have to do anything compulsory but if they don’t comply, then they’ll leave me no choice,'” said US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in a Reuters interview.
TSMC local investors are worried that sending information to the US may compromise trade secrets and business competitiveness. It could even impact consumer trust. They have reportedly filed for a provisional injunction to Taiwan Hsinchu District Court to prevent the company from sending critical trade secrets to the US.
But TSMC isn’t the only company that the Biden administration has requested such information from. And the Taiwanese firm is confident that it can protect sensitive client information while addressing the White House request. We will have to wait and see how things pan out.