NSA illegally surveys big companies all over the world to steal trade secrets

http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_05_21/NSA-illegally-surveilles-big-companies-all-over-the-world-to-steal-trade-secrets-9388/

NSA illegally surveilles big companies all over the world to steal trade secrets

 

The US National Security Agency has never said what it was seeking when it illegally invaded the computers of Petrobras, Brazil’s huge national oil company, but Brazilians assumed: the company’s troves of data on Brazil’s offshore oil reserves, or perhaps its plans for allocating licenses for exploration to foreign companies, the New York Times reports.

It has become known that the agency also got its hands on the computer systems of China Telecom, one of the largest providers of mobile phone and Internet services in Chinese cities. But documents released by Edward Snowden leave little doubt that the main goal was to learn about Chinese military units, whose members cannot resist texting on commercial networks.

The agency’s interest in Huawei, the giant Chinese maker of Internet switching equipment, and Pacnet, the Hong Kong-based operator of undersea fiber optic cables, is more obvious: once inside those companies’ proprietary technology, the NSA would have access to millions of daily conversations and emails that never touch American shores.

In each of these cases, American officials insist, when speaking off the record, that the United States was never acting on behalf of specific American companies. But the government does not deny it routinely spies to advance American economic advantage, which is part of its broad definition of how it protects American national security. To cut a long story short: the NSA cannot spy on Airbus and give the results to Boeing, but it is free to spy on European or Asian trade negotiators and use the results to help American trade officials- and, obviously, the American industries and workers they are trying to bolster.

In the Chinese view, the United States has designed its own system of rules about what constitutes “legal” spying and what is illegal.

In fact, state-run oil companies are a fascination to the NSA just as American high-tech firms are a Chinese obsession. State oil companies in Saudi Arabia, Africa, Iran and Mexico have often been intelligence targets for the United States. American officials say that digging inside corporations for insights into economic policy is different from actually stealing corporate secrets.

“What we do not do, as we have said many times,” James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, said after some of the initial NSA revelations last year, “is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of – or give intelligence we collect to – US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.”

American officials sometimes dig into corporations because they are suspected to be witting or unwitting suppliers of technology to the North Koreans or the Iranians, for instance. Siemens, the German telecommunications firm, was the chief supplier of the factory controllers that ran the centrifuges in Iran’s main nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz. The Stuxnet computer worm, designed by the United States and Israel, was designed to attack Siemens equipment – and it has never been clear whether the company knew that its machines were under American and Israeli attack. But in that case, American officials could argue that national security, not corporate competitiveness, was the priority.Well,  in that case any illegal spying activity may be justified. 
Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_05_21/NSA-illegally-surveilles-big-companies-all-over-the-world-to-steal-trade-secrets-9388/

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