Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

FBI Gets Behind Industrial Espionage Bill

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

Whitehouse (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The FBI says it supports Senate legislation intended to crack down on industrial espionage, including work by hackers who are never actually present in the United States, reports CQ Roll Call’s Jennifer Scholtes.

Randall Coleman, assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, said bureau officials “absolutely” approve of the draft bill that Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced in July 2013, Scholtes reports. The measure would strengthen federal investigation and prosecution of theft of trade secrets from U.S. companies. Scholtes summarizes the bill this way:

The draft legislation … would clarify that espionage laws apply to those who steal trade secrets on behalf of foreign governments but who are not actually agents of foreign government. The laws also would apply to hackers whose codes pass through U.S. computers but who are never physically present in the United States. And they would apply to those who convey trade secrets to foreign governments but may not know the information could benefit those foreign governments.

Coleman appeared yesterday at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing. His written testimony and video of the hearing are available through the committee website.

China is a primary concern, Whitehouse said at the hearing. Newsweek reported last week that Israel and the United States also have developed a particularly contentious relationship when it comes to industrial espionage.

  • Mike Crichton

    Since liberty enables the continuous mutually adjusting efforts of millions of people, free markets and free societies are able to make use of infinitely more knowledge than one mind, or a few minds, could ever hope to control.

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