Theft of valuable, secret business information should be considered legally, the same as the theft of military information. Taking into consideration the fact, if valuable business information is accidentally disclosed to the public, courts normally refuse to guard it as a trade secret. Theft of secret business data can be used by competitors without fear of an owner applies to the court with a lawsuit. The risks of corporations are to be injured by illegal actions of foreign hackers unless Congress adopts new cybersecurity laws. Over the past five years, a very complicated team of operatives have furtively gained access to more than 80 the U.S. businesses and organizations to embezzle priceless company secrets. The essential characteristics of a typical theft of valuable, secret business data show an owner of the valuable information for business, its level of importance and the defendant who took or used by infringe of an accord, confidential relationship, or other inappropriate means to gain access to the information.
Theft of trade secrets occurs when an intruder, knowing that his activity will harm the owner of information acts with an aim to get profit from the stolen data. This occurs mainly through getting secret information without appropriate access to it. Secondly, an attempt to get valuable data by copying it, destroying, uploading without consent is regarded as theft. Thirdly, stealing of such information can occur through receiving information knowing that it had been obtained or converted without authorization.
Valuable, secret business information includes not only secret procedures and methods but more ordinary proprietary information, such as clients and price lists, transactions figures, business plans, or any other confidential information that is worth to the business and would be greatly harmful if revealed (Franklin 99). As a result, theft of valuable, secret business information should be considered legally. This is because, unlike theft of tangible goods, information theft can literally threaten a company’s overall ability to make a profit or survive in a competitive market (Franklin 99). Franklin further says that information can be valuable even when it does not have an outward appearance (99). For example, the theft of a competitor’s customer database may seem trivial at first glance, but it may have substantial financial loss if a competitor knows the buying habits of the company’s customers (Franklin 99).
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In addition, Baldauf and Stair noted that the information, an organization possesses, is often valuable, regarding it as a key to its success (562). Theft of valuable, secret business information should be considered legally, the same as the theft of military information, because to have such information concession can result in a loss of market share and in some cases total business failure. For example in 2009, Twitters corporate network was hacked into, and the hacker took over 300 confidential documents (Baldauf and Stair 562). During the process, various sensitive documents were made public on Techcrunch.com and included secret dealings between Twitter and Google, Microsoft and others (Baldauf and Stair 562). The theft revealed important information that competitors could use to gain a competitive advantage over Twitter.
Research shows that military espionage is giving way to economic espionage. Economic espionage refers to the premeditated theft of proprietary business information for the benefit of a foreign entity (Ferrera 209). Over the last five years, the ease with which business information could be secretly accessed through computer hacking has resulted to a quadrupling of economic espionage occurrences resulting in related losses to business of $63 billion annually. According to Ferrera (209), in order to provide federal law enforcement with the tools to combat both foreign and domestic trade secret theft, Congress enacted the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (EEA). The act criminalized the theft of trade secrets and provided for penalties of up to $10 million as well as imprisonment for up to 15 years. The Economic Espionage Act provides that information will only be eligible as a trade secret, if the information is important. It will be difficult to acquire it lawfully, if realistic measures are taken to safeguard secrecy (Ferrera 209).
The stealing of valuable, secret business data should be considered legally, because trade secret theft and economic espionage continue to pose a threat to the United States companies. It will cause an enormous amount of losses. (Urquhart and Sullivan). Urquhart and Sullivan indicated “a report of the office of the national counter intelligence executive noted that foreign economic collection and industrial espionage against the US represented significant and growing threats to the nation’s prosperity and security”. As a result, the government’s agencies should boost their investigations and prosecutions of corporate and state-sponsored trade secret theft. At the same time, the federal government should intensify its efforts to fight the theft of trade secrets. The theft of trade secrets from the US companies by foreign economic competitors destabilizes the corporate sector’s capacity to create jobs, produce revenues, promote innovation, and lay the economic foundation for affluence and national security (Urquhart and Sullivan).
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Furthermore, Nasheri says that theft of valuable information should be considered legally because when economic goals begin to play a more central role in defining national security, the interest in information theft increases (55). According to Nasheri, the increasing value of trade secrets in the global economy and the concurrent explosion of technology have increased the opportunities and methods for carrying out information theft (55). Studies show that theft of valuable, secret business information is most rampant in the world’s most economically aggressive nations and regions including the US, Asia, and Western Europe. Nasheri notes that theft of valuable, secret business information to some extent helps nations to maintain economic and technological competitiveness and to gain an edge on a competitor. It helps to provide technologically limited countries with the modern devices they need (55).
When companies loose valuable, secret business information, they cannot profit using their competitive advantage. As a result, Nasheri says that if they are incapable of recouping their investments in research and development, they lose their motivation to innovate and bring new products or services to customers (55). The consequences encompass higher prices charged to consumers, as well as a decrease in new technologies, creative inventions and improvements. Victims of trade secret thefts are often faced with a predicament when choosing whether to report the matter to law enforcement authorities (Nasheri 55). Burgunder says that high technology companies have found valuable, secret business information to be an important constituent of their strategic intellectual property protection plans (176). As firms become increasingly engrossed in global competition, some spectators believe that foreign firms and even oversea governments have dedicated major resources towards theft of secret business information.
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The theft of secret business information should be considered legally so as to guard against the embezzlement of information that is not commonly known (Thomas 3). Framing the trade secret law requires a balancing of competing interests. Thomas says that a vigorous trade secret law that provides tough protection to valuable, secret business information holds many potential advantages (3). One of the benefits is that it may allow firms to capture the benefits of the costs and time it takes to develop the information, without having to share the benefits of that information with others (Thomas 3). Protection of such information provides enticements to innovate.
Protection of valuable, secret business information may extent to a foreseeable future. Thomas says that so long as information is not generally known to the public, it confers an economic gain to its holder and is focus to rational efforts to maintain its secrecy (6). It is important to note that business information is not entitled for legal protection unless its owners assume appropriate and realistic secrecy measures to avoid it from entering into the public domain (Shan 62). It should be noted that if a party does not view its business information as top secret and does not assume proper and reasonable measures to protect it will be pointless for the law to protect it.
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Meeting the challenge of secret business information theft requires better cooperation among governmental, private and international entities. Nasheri says that the reaction need not essentially be bound up completely in new national or international legal norms (107). Significant amount of secret business information theft goes unnoticed hence victims are faced with a predicament when deciding whether to report the matter to law enforcement authorities. The legal framework should, therefore, be designed such that the discoverer of a trade secret should guard against the unexpected, the imperceptible or the unavoidable methods of information theft now available (Shan 64).
In conclusion, theft of valuable, secret business information should be considered legally because trade secret is a valuable property. While there appears to be a rational change in approach at the corporate and private level, there has been an equivalent change in mind-set in the way governments view information theft. State legislative bodies should take significant steps in protecting valuable, secret business information. Information theft should be seen as a major problem hence today legislatures should recognize the impact such theft has on society and economy.
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