Trade Secrets Essay

10723 words - 43 pages

Trade Secrets

In the post Cold War era increasing international economic competition has redefined
the context for espionage as nations link their national security to their economic
security. Proprietary economic information meant to be secret is stolen with losses
estimated anywhere between $24 and 100 billion. In this climate of distrust, intelligence
services are expanding from their primary focus on military secrets to collecting
economic secrets, i. e., to conducting economic espionage. Since cessation of the Cold
War, the most virulent offenders have been former military allies of the United States.
Economic espionage poses a real threat to America's economic future, yet outside of
the intelligence community, few know about it. The author attempts to close this
information gap by defining economic espionage, and by discussing the methods used to
obtain trade secrets from U. S. corporations. He also provides an overview of
legislation used in fighting economic espionage and the impact of the Economic
Espionage Act of 1996, which is aimed at strengthening efforts at preventing it.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 1997 American Society for Public Administration

Introduction

Throughout history, espionage has generally been viewed as an activity conducted by
spies to obtain the military secrets of an enemy. Some of the most successful and
well-known examples of espionage include England's use of spies to uncover the
military information that helped to defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588; the use of spies
by the Allies during World War 11 to defeat the Axis powers; and the Soviet Union's
use of spies to steal atomic bomb secrets from their former allies, the United States and
Britain.

In the post Cold War era, however, increasing international economic competition has
redefined the context for espionage as nations link their national security to their
economic security. Spying conducted by intelligence services is expanding from its
primary focus on military secrets to collecting economic secrets, i.e., to conducting
economic espionage.

The United States is particularly vulnerable to the changing focus of international
espionage agencies since so many American...

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