White House Mobilizes to Stop Theft of Trade Secrets
The Obama administration is mobilizing the full force of the federal government in an effort to stop theft of trade secrets from American companies.
From diplomatic outreach from the State Department, law enforcement by the Department of Justice and working with Congress for new trade secret legislation, the administration said it would do everything it can to stop an onslaught of trade secret theft from China and other countries.
"Trade secret theft threatens American businesses, undermines national security, and places the security of the U.S. economy in jeopardy," the White House said in a 100-plus report released Wednesday. "These acts also diminish U.S. export prospects around the globe and put American jobs at risk."
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The announcement came one day after a private consulting company revealed new details linking the Chinese military to a vast web of cyber corporate espionage. But the report released Wednesday went beyond cyberspace, citing examples of cases in which former corporate insiders stole trade secrets from American companies and attempted to bring them to Chinese firms.
Mentioned as victims of that type of insider attack were Ford, DuPont, Dow Chemical and Motorola. In one 2011 case cited by the White House customs officers at Chicago's O'Hare Airport stopped a suspect who was allegedly carrying 1,000 sensitive documents from Motorola, $30,000 in cash and a one-way ticket to China.
"As an administration we will be vigilant in addressing threats, including corporate and state sponsored trade secret theft that jeopardizes our status as the world's leader for innovation," said Victoria Espinel, the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. "We will act vigorously to combat the theft of U.S. trade secrets that could be used by foreign companies or by foreign governments to gain an unfair economic edge."
At the State Department, the White House said diplomats would "apply sustained and coordinated diplomatic pressure" on countries engaging in trade secret theft. And the U.S. trade representative will try to negotiate new provisions in trade agreements focusing on trade secrets.
Similarly, the White House said the FBI is expanding its efforts to fight computer intrusions and that the office of the director of national intelligence would begin to communicate with the private sector and share what the intelligence community knows about incoming threats.
For years, intelligence officials have complained that they know a lot about what potential corporate spies are planning but can not share it with Corporate America because of rules regulations and laws about secrecy.
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Government officials also plan to work with companies to exchange advice on how to stop intrusions and to publicize new tactics for defeating cybersnoops.
-By CNBC's Eamon Javers; Follow him on Twitter: @eamonjavers