Yesterday, two United States Senators proposed legislation to address the theft of US trade secrets by foreign thieves. U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released a discussion draft for proposed legislation that would close a loophole that allows foreign hackers and the governments that support them to escape law enforcement.
It is no secret that trade secret theft is becoming a significant problem for US companies.
“Trade-secret theft and economic espionage threaten American companies and our nation’s economic competitiveness. Foreign thieves and hackers must not be allowed to escape accountability through loopholes in our criminal laws,” said Senator Whitehouse.
The cost to continuously invent the future is high. Many foreign individuals, companies and governments are looking to short-cut the process by stealing the technological know-how of US companies, universities, and research facilities. By stealing technology, foreign competitors can bring cheaper products to market faster without the significant upfront R&D costs.
In our current highly competitive global marketplace, trade secret theft is on the rise. That theft causes US companies and the US economy to lose billions of dollars every year. In order to combat such theft, the US has made trade secret theft a crime in the United States.
Senator Graham added, “Trade-secret theft and economic espionage can become forms of financial warfare. We must make sure we give law enforcement the tools to go after state-sponsored foreign hackers and organized cyber-thieves that are stealing our intellectual property.”
Over recent years, there has been an uptick in the number of trade secret theft prosecutions, resulting in hefty fines and jail time for the perpetrators. Unfortunately, it is practically impossible to prosecute an individual who engages in such criminal activity if they are not in the United States, say through cyber attacks by foreign hackers.