The House has passed bipartisan legislation to protect American trade secrets from foreign spies and increase criminal punishment for espionage against U.S. companies, according to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA).
Wolf, an original co-sponsor of the bill (H.R. 6029) and a long-standing advocate for strong laws to fend off the growing threat of foreign espionage of U.S. technology and trade secrets, made the following statement in support of the bill:
"In recent years, the threat of foreign governments spying on the United States has increased dramatically. Not only are these criminals working to obtain personal information such as credit card numbers and social security numbers, but foreign agents are increasingly spying on U.S. companies and entrepreneurs and are stealing corporate intellectual capital. This is a serious threat that must be curtailed immediately, which is why I strongly support this timely bill.
"By increasing the penalty for these egregious crimes, we are taking a critically important step to fend off foreign spies who think they can take advantage of American innovation and compromise our national security, as well as our competitiveness in the international marketplace. We need to send a strong message to countries like China that these crimes will absolutely not be tolerated, and violators of espionage laws will be brought to justice for their crimes. This bill does just that."
Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the Foreign and Economic Espionage Penalty Enhancement Act would increase the maximum prison time for an individual convicted of foreign economic espionage from 15 years to 20 years, and would increase fines from $500,000 to as much as $5 million. For organizations convicted of these crimes, the fine would increase from up to $10 million to a minimum of $10 million or three times the value of the stolen trade secret, whichever is greater.