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Industrial Espionage

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If one watched the USA in action after the dissolution of the USSR the only conclusion one can make was: they are gangsters and they always were gangsters.  And that actually sounds true if we try to analyze historical record (

Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the United States was charging members of the Chinese military with economic espionage. Stealing trade secrets from American companies, he said, enabled China to “illegally sabotage” foreign competitors and propel its own companies to “success in the international marketplace.” The United States should know. That’s pretty much how we got our start as a manufacturing power, too.

“The United States emerged as the world’s industrial leader by illicitly appropriating mechanical and scientific innovations from Europe,” the historian Doron Ben-Atar observes in his book “Trade Secrets.” Throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, American industrial spies roamed the British Isles, seeking not just new machines but skilled workers who could run and maintain those machines. One of these artisans was Samuel Slater, often called “the father of the American industrial revolution.” He emigrated here in 1789, posing as a farmhand and bringing with him an intimate knowledge of the Arkwright spinning frames that had transformed textile production in England, and he set up the first water-powered textile mill in the U.S. Two decades later, the American businessman Francis Cabot Lowell talked his way into a number of British mills, and memorized the plans to the Cartwright power loom. When he returned home, he built his own version of the loom, and became the most successful industrialist of his time.

The American government often encouraged such piracy. Alexander Hamilton, in his 1791 “Report on Manufactures,” called on the country to reward those who brought us “improvements and secrets of extraordinary value” from elsewhere. State governments financed the importation of smuggled machines. And although federal patents were supposed to be granted only to people who came up with original inventions, Ben-Atar shows that, in practice, Americans were receiving patents for technology pirated from abroad.

Piracy was a big deal even in those days. Great Britain had strict laws against the export of machines, and banned skilled workers from emigrating. Artisans who flouted the ban could lose their property and be convicted of treason. The efforts of Thomas Digges, America’s most effective industrial spy, got him repeatedly jailed by the Brits—and praised by George Washington for his “activity and zeal.” Not that the British didn’t have a long history of piracy themselves. In 1719, in Derby, Thomas Lombe set up what’s sometimes called the first factory in the United Kingdom, after his half brother made illicit diagrams of an Italian silk mill. (Lombe was later knighted.) And in the nineteenth century Britain’s East India Company, in one of the most successful acts of industrial espionage ever, sent a botanist to China, where he stole both the technique for processing tea leaves (which is surprisingly complex) and a vast collection of tea plants. That allowed the British to grow tea in India, breaking China’s stranglehold on the market.

These days, of course, things have changed. The United States is the world’s biggest advocate for enforcing stringent intellectual-property rules, which it insists are necessary for economic growth. Yet, as our own history suggests, the economic impact of technology piracy isn’t straightforward. On the one hand, patents and trade secrets can provide an incentive for people to innovate. If you realized that a new invention was going to get ripped off by China, you might not invest the time and money needed to come up with it in the first place. On the other hand, patents and trade secrets limit the diffusion of new technology—and sometimes slow down technological progress—while copying accelerates it. Samsung, for instance, is known for being a “fast follower” in its consumer business, which really means that it’s adept at copying other companies’ good ideas. That’s not the same as theft, but evidence from its recent patent trials with Apple shows that Samsung’s response to the iPhone was, in large part, simply to do it “like the iPhone.” This was bad for Apple’s bottom line, but it meant that many more people ended up enjoying the benefits of Apple’s concepts.

Patents and trade secrets also limit the kind of innovation that comes from putting a new spin on existing technologies. In Silicon Valley, engineers historically migrated with ease from company to company, in part because California prohibits most non-compete provisions. And, as they moved, they inevitably carried pieces of their old companies’ intellectual property with them. A good thing, too. As the Berkeley scholar AnnaLee Saxenian has convincingly argued, this practice was one reason the Valley became so innovative. Or take the case of Francis Cabot Lowell. He didn’t just copy plans for the Cartwright loom; he improved it, and then he made it part of the first integrated textile factory in America. Lowell was a genuine innovator. But, had he not copied the loom, his factories would never have had a chance to work.

That’s not to say that the U.S. should turn a blind eye to China’s piracy—the Justice Department is supposed to look after the interests of American citizens. But, just as in a loom factory, the pattern repeats: engaging in economic espionage is something developing countries do. When you’re not yet generating a lot of intellectual property on your own, you imitate. These days, China is going to try to steal, and the West is going to try to stop it. But the tactic of using piracy to leapfrog ahead? That looks like an idea it stole from us.

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[Apr 25, 2014] US world's top aggressor in cyber espionage - researcher

The Voice of Russia

"In light of Edward Snowden's revelations it's clear that the United States is the world's leading aggressor as far as cyber-espionage and mass interception are concerned. The NSA is without equal among nation-states in this regard," Blunden stated, elaborating on most recent court statements about an FBI informant extracting data from the government servers of a number of countries.

The alarming revelation of the US government's new foreign policy arsenal may be hinting at a massive and carefully planned cyberwar.

As a researcher currently looking into questions of informational security, Blunden stated that labelling these clearly outrageous political manipulations as warfare' is a hasty conclusion.

"While the United States is neck deep in covert operations which revolve around economic espionage, diplomatic manipulation, and social control, genuine acts of violence, and hence cyberwar, are conspicuously absent," he explained drawing on the US military's doctrinal definition of war as socially sanctioned violence to achieve a political purpose

[Jan 26, 2014] Edward Snowden tells German TV that NSA is involved in industrial espionage by Reuters in Berlin

See also
26 January 2014 | The Guardian

The National Security Agency is involved in industrial espionage and will take intelligence regardless of its value to national security, the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has told a German television network.

... ... ...

"If there's information at Siemens that's beneficial to US national interests – even if it doesn't have anything to do with national security – then they'll take that information nevertheless," said Snowden.

A New York Times report made earlier this January claims that the NSA put software in just under 1,00,000 computers globally, allowing surveillance to occur on these appliances. Apparently the NSA have secret technology that allows them to gain entry into computers that are not even connected to the internet. According to the American newspaper, the technology has been in use since 2008 and it relies on hidden channel radio waves transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards secretly inserted in the computers.

He told the public broadcasting network that he no longer had any NSA documents, and that he had given them all to select journalists. So now he has no control over whether information gets published or not.

Many in Germany, considered a close ally of the US, were dismayed with reports that the NSA monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone. They want to get a "no-spy" agreement with the US.

Snowden also talked about how some US reports say that his life is on the line because he leaked top-secret documents. "These people, and they are government officials, have said they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket and then watch me die in the shower." However, the whistleblower claims that he sleeps well because he believes he has done the right thing.

Recently, Edward Snowden has been nominated for a Nobel Peace prize by two Norwegian politicians.

photosymbiont -> DoesNotComputer
Here's a good reason: The U.S. justifies its expansion of funding for the NSA based on claims about China conducting industrial espionage via cyberattacks - while also loudly claiming that the NSA never engages in such activities.

Exposing your own government's hypocrisy is pretty good reason, isn't it?

Just an electronic CIA it would seem. Anyone know how closely the two (and the FBI for that matter) actually work?

IgAIgEIgG -> KeejayOV

Speaking of, I have been watching Sherlock - the most recent one - and I was if not surprised perhaps a little sickened to see how the CIA/Americans are portrayed - violent, stupid men, buffoons, only interested in sadism and bullying, who could not find their ass with a map and a flashlight.

Anyway, lots and lots of contracts are being cancelled by foreign governments with regard to American business. In order for this to stop, Obama needs to reform his spy apparatus, dealing in good faith with an admission he messed up big time. That won't happen, of course.

I hope they have someone in the wings who can work around him, or this is going to present a big, big, problem for the US government. The only other solution would be for the tech companies to adopt an adversarial role with regard to the NSA, and not cooperate. This might help to rebuild trust.

As of now, per the usual, the politicians and their silly generals don't really seem to have an inkling as to how this will affect the American economy and American big business, and if they do, they blame Snowden rather than themselves.

To an extent, Obama does in the MIC, but not deliberately.


Why is privacy important?

"Some theorists depict privacy as a basic human good or right that's value is intrinsic. They see privacy as being objectively valuable in itself, as an essential component of human flourishing or well-being. The more common view is that privacy is valuable because it facilitates or promotes other fundamental values including ideals of personhood such as:

• Personal autonomy (the ability to make personal decisions)
• Individuality
• Respect
• Dignity
• Worth as human beings

Privacy allows us to make our own decisions free from coercion, to totally be oneself and potentially engage in behavior that might deviate from social norms. It allows us the time and space for self-evaluation. Informational privacy is seen as enhancing individual autonomy by allowing individuals control over who may access different parts of their personal information. It also allows people to maintain their dignity, to keep some aspect of their life or behavior to themselves simply because it would be embarrassing for other people to know about it.

Privacy also allows people to protect their assets or to avoid sharing information with others who would use it against them, such as discrimination by employers, educators, or insurers. The ability to control one's information has value even in the absence of any shameful or embarrassing or other tangibly harmful circumstances.

Privacy is also required for developing interpersonal relationships with others. While some emphasize the need for privacy to establish intimate relationships, others take a broader view of privacy as being necessary to maintain a variety of social relationships.

By giving us the ability to control who knows what about us and who has access to us, privacy allows us to alter our behavior with different people so that we may maintain and control our various social relationships. For example, people may share different information with their boss than they would with their doctor, as appropriate with their different relationships.

Most discussions on the value of privacy focus on its importance to the individual. Privacy can be seen, however, as also having value to society as a whole. Privacy furthers the existence of a free society. Large databases, potential national identifiers and wide-scale surveillance, can be seen as threatening not only individual rights or interests but also the nature of our society. For example, preserving privacy from wide-spread surveillance can be seen as protecting not only the individual's private sphere, but also society as a whole: privacy contributes to the maintenance of the type of society in which we want to live.

In short, society is better off when privacy exists"

BlackjackX -> statistic
You mention employers' right to discriminate, Workers no longer have the right for employment, thanks to the republican party, and now embraced by the democratic party!
MauditFrancais1979 -> statistic

You do have a point.

But privacy is already dead. It has become technically impossible and unfeasable.

Unless you want to withdraw to a wildly remote part of the world, with no access or contact whatsoever to the rest of the planet and of the world.


All spying is about power and control while using terrorism as a fig leaf. As revealed in recent revelations, NSA spying has not stopped a single incident of terrorism Yet the NSA illegally collects more than 97 billions of intelligence a month from the world.

How much economic and political advantage does the US garner from its infinite spying?

Plataea -> OnlyObserving

Quite a bit actually.

Enercon, German wind turbine manufacturer. First to develop variable speed WTs (late 1980s). Did not patent - used secrecy - which was not successful. Early 1990s, CIA (NSA?) hacked Enercons computer networks and also broke into a varibale speed WT to collect data on the control system. All info passed to a US WT mfy later taken over by GE. Patents taken out. Enercon to this day has not sold WTs in the USA, and GE has a limited presence in Europe.

USA, spying on everybody, everywhere.


The National Security Agency is involved in industrial espionage and will take intelligence regardless of its value to national security

The industrial espionage was the real reason behind the existence of NSA and not the pretext "security against terrorism" feed.

Thanks Edward for your bravery. God bless

maywebringtruth -> adamsmith123

life in danger

Yes I would expect the life of Snowden, family & close friends and acquaintances to be in danger.

After all there are many unsavoury types, hostile foreign security agencies, terrorists & criminals who may well believe Snowden still has access to/copies of the classified information he stole - and would kidnap & hold hostage people.

After all, who can believe a man who betrayed his country, actively schemed to steal his nations secrets, broke laws, fled via the cooperation of two countries (highly activie spying nations in their own right) and gave copies of stolen materials to foreign "journalists".

Argoner -> maywebringtruth

Snowden did not "steal" anything, he gave the people what was/is rightfully theirs, information obtained by public servants with taxpayer dollars.

He did not betray his country rather he, with great risk and self sacrafice, stood up for the rights of the people and the constitution. The country was (and is being) betrayed by the politicans, the NSA, and anyone supporting them...

jeb bushell -> Jonathan Pearson

One of the things they use is a tiny chip embedded in the external plug of a cable. This has two benefits: First, it lives outside what may be a metal box containing your motherboard which, If it is metal, will suppress radio communication, and second, the doctored cable can be added as if standard equipment at the factory.

So make sure your tinfoil covers your box and cable ends! And, manufacturers, please make those cable ends transparent, no point in making the Surveillance Drips' lives any easier.


It becomes clearer every day that "National Security" is a smokescreen. What the surveillance programs are really about are the perpetuation of US economic and political dominance.

XuscitizenSweden -> sirclive

Asolutely agree with your statement.

Earlier this week Alfred McCoy wrote what I consider one of the best analyses of the reasons for the NSA's 'get-it-all principle'.
Tonight Ed talks about industrial espionage, Alfred McCoy takes up political blackmail among other things and other got-to-know vantage points.
Excellent Reading @

zchabj5 sirclive

The NSA must be doing a pretty bad job. In 2000 the US had some 30% of global GDP, in 2012 it lies somewhere at 19%.

And that includes the worthless paper wealth financial institutions count as GDP production and years of US inflation fudging artificially increasing GDP as real GDP is nominal GDP minus inflation and US inflation is deliberately under reported.


Ah, but Snowden errs slightly. The only "nation" the NSA and the Beltway Thugs are interested in is the nation of corporations who grease their palms. So in a stunningly perverse way, this really is "national security." As far as they're concerned, terrorists can blow up whatever, kill whomever they want; terrorists are, after all, necessary in order to keep the public frightened and eager to sign away civil liberties and human rights.

leonorp -> zolotoy

summarised by the fact that we still do not have accountability for the meltdown of the world's economy even tho' the US gov't tapped all communications.

gov'ts represent the corporate elite

proudhon -> zolotoy

Terrorism is useful to the State as it excuses all this snooping. It also scares people and frightened people tend to be obedient. All Snowden's work is establishing the real nature of State power and what motivates their actions.

We no longer have to theorise about what they are probably doing we now know. So all those people who cry 'I'm not surprised' have a factual basis for the exclamation.
If knowledge is power then Snowden's biggest achievement is to give the people more power and insight.

Now, what to do about eliminating the State threat to liberty.

StrategicVoice213 -> hmorgansr

but one more black eye for Washington. This revelation also proves that corporations are running the US government.

Yea, not really. What exactly will this 'revelation' (if that's what you want to call it) do to the U.S., what will be the implications? I'd be willing to bet, like all the other 'revelations', that it won't do a damn thing ...

As for your ridiculous "corporations are running the U.S. Government" comment ... that's a joke right? Since when is economic espionage an indication of a corporate take over? You better get this historians on the line and ask them rewrite their passages about Roman espionage.

Of course a better answer would require us to look at reality and three inputs of an economy: land, labor, and capital. Yea, that thing called capital is what beats the economic heart of a nation ... also known as money.

The U.S. Government's ability to stay ahead economically will always be met with fierce opposition, but as you, Germany, Brazil, and others continue to whine about American spying superiority, the U.S. will only shift and adapt its methods of espionage.


I've already commented that the NSA's (actually the Carlyle Group - Snowden's employer) spying on Brazil had more to do with spying on Petrobas than on the Brazilian government.

The real question is whether or not the press and Congress is ever going to go after the Carlyle Group. Whether or not they will ask the hard questions like.

Why is a private corporation holding information on millions of American citizens?
Why is the NSA acting as a front for corporate spying?

Theodore McIntire

Edward Snowden consistently reveals factual information, fearlessly defies the powerful and corrupt, and accomplished exactly what he set out to do in a matter of weeks.

In addition, his actions were self initiated, for the benefit of all mankind / not motivated by fear, and he did it all on an international scale.

How many people in all of human history can match these accomplishments?


I think we need to learn (< be advised by investigative journos) what is the precise nature and actuality of the conduit between big business and the NSA -- and the GCHQ, too? Do the heads of corporations approach NSA / GCHQ with a wish-list of trade secrets etc. that they'd like stolen on their behalf? Or do NSA / GCHQ go hunting on their own initiative, then offer up the poison fruit to big business -- and, if so, for free, in the spirit of patriotism, or for a fee?

If the latter, then are the NSA / GCHQ institutions the beneficiaries, or do such off-the-books payments help fill the private pockets of NSA / GCHQ executives and staff? Or are all these things perhaps true, ad hoc, as per circumstance? Maybe, at least as far as GCHQ is concerned, Camoron, Hague, May, and/or Rifkind would be so good as to come clean and advise the general public so that whistleblowers & journos might, pre-emptively, be spared the effort and rendered redundant.

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