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Edward Snowden Says NSA Engages In Industrial Espionage 212

Posted by timothy
from the disapproval-does-not-require-surprise dept.
Maow writes "Edward Snowden has been interviewed by a German TV network and stated that the NSA is involved in industrial espionage, which is outside the range of national security. He claims that Siemens is a prime example of a target for the data collection. I doubt this would surprise AirBus or other companies, but it shall remain to be seen what measures global industries take (if any) to prevent their internal secrets from falling into NSA's — and presumably American competitors' — hands." AirBus is a good example of a company that has experienced spying from both sides.
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Edward Snowden Says NSA Engages In Industrial Espionage

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  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Monday January 27, 2014 @09:09AM (#46079597)
    This actually makes perfect sense.

    There has existed a perception that large corporate compilers of information reluctantly acquiesced to the full might of national security orders and subpoenas..

    What's in it for me? is a sweet, sweet incentivizer, too.

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday January 27, 2014 @09:30AM (#46079743) Journal
      It's not normally the same companies. Mostly defence contractors get the benefits, which sort-of makes sense as much of the US military depends on the products from these industries, and so if you squint enough it looks like a national security concern.
      • You have to admit that the civilian market for rail guns, field artillery, and radar jammers is pretty small.

        • Only 'coz we aren't allowed to have 'em.

          • Americans can own artillery, it is just both expensive and hard to come by. The license costs also make them expensive to shoot, but it can be done.

            Probably sold by now: Bofors L60 40mm Machine Gun for Sale [youtube.com]

        • Then you've got to visit Arizona.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by cold fjord (826450)

      This actually makes perfect sense.

      There has existed a perception that large corporate compilers of information reluctantly acquiesced to the full might of national security orders and subpoenas..

      What's in it for me? is a sweet, sweet incentivizer, too.

      So, did Snowden release any documents as proof? I don't recall seeing any. If the data isn't passed to corporations that wouldn't seem to be very useful.

  • Assuming the espionage is purely separate from any military programs, American companies get the ability to build products Americans rely on, rather than having American life be dependent on foreign companies which might not be able or willing to export during World War 3. And somehow that's not a part of national security?

    • by SirGarlon (845873) on Monday January 27, 2014 @09:15AM (#46079635)

      If you accept that argument, then all economic activity falls under the umbrella of national security, and the Constitution goes out the window.

      Oh, I see what you did there.

      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        Cute, but no [c2.com].

        Spying on one uncooperative American company to help a favored American competitor wouldn't really help national security as much. The balance of economic power between nations would be unchanged.

        Offhand, I don't know of any section of the Constitution that would be affected here. The Constitution doesn't actually afford any protection for foreign nations, but I'm sure the hordes of wishful thinkers will insist otherwise.

        • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Monday January 27, 2014 @11:38AM (#46080781)

          I think he's trying to make the argument that if corporate espionage counts as "national security" then so does any NSA interference in "commerce," which due to the absurdly broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause means that the NSA can do literally anything at all.

          It's not actually that big a leap, I think.

          • by Sarten-X (1102295)

            I think it's a pretty big leap to go from foreign espionage to unlimited interference anywhere. That's a lot of conditions removed. A much smaller leap is to say that espionage against a foreign government for the benefit of our own government is also suitable for and against government contractors.

            The Commerce Clause gives Congress power over interstate Congress, so that would be allow Congress to authorize any domestic interference, not the NSA (though Congress could probably charge the NSA with such a ta

      • by swillden (191260)

        If you accept that argument, then all economic activity falls under the umbrella of national security, and the Constitution goes out the window.

        Only if you accept that it's okay to toss the Constitution out the window any time "national security" is invoked. Granted that that is the position of the current (and last several) administrations, but that doesn't mean it's true.

        However, I think it clearly is true that all economic activity of sufficient scope and scale is relevant to national security. And, actually, I think the NSA even has a legitimate role in assuring the security of large-scale US economic activities.

        I once worked on a project w

        • by SirGarlon (845873)

          Only if you accept that it's okay to toss the Constitution out the window any time "national security" is invoked. Granted that that is the position of the current (and last several) administrations, but that doesn't mean it's true.

          Right, though I'd add it's not only the administration that takes that position. Congress and the courts have been willing accomplices, and an alarming number of ordinary citizens think "national security" is more important than "civil liberties." What should and should not be

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If America with all our resources can't work out some cheap knock-off without resorting to industrial espionage, we deserve to fail.

      Let's be honest though, the NSA serves only a small portion of our population and sees the rest of us as their adversary.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @10:00AM (#46079925)

        Let's be honest though, the NSA serves only a small portion of our population and sees the rest of us as their adversary.

        The NSA serves nobody but itself. It's in its self-interest to siphon off as much tax payer money as possible but the control structures that need to be greased for that are deliberately removed from the control and oversight of the tax payer.

        That's not all too different from how secret services in other countries operate and partly hard to avoid if the "secret" is supposed to make some kind of sense.

        What's different in the U.S.A., however, is that the amount of money the secret services burn through without basic oversight is a significant portion of the nation's income, to a degree where it endangers the national finances as well as international relations.

        The NSA is out of control by design, but it is taking down the whole nation, and that's causing more damage than good to its ulterior justification of providing a net benefit to the U.S.A.

    • by Xest (935314) on Monday January 27, 2014 @09:31AM (#46079751)

      Well that depends, if you got a situation where America is artificially taking work away from other nations by simply stealing their knowledge, product designs and so forth then that might mean those nations become less stable and more likely to want to hurt America when they find out the only reason they're poor and unemployed is because America stole from them.

      Not to mention the harm this does for it's ability to partake in international politics, how silly will it look telling China off for manipulating it's currency to it's benefit when America has similarly been artificially propping it's economy up simply by stealing from everyone else? It's a dangerous game as if America wants to get in a race to the bottom it's going to lose hard because countries like India and China will be able to cope with reduced living standards far more than Americans will be able to without rising up and rioting. Those countries also have far less scruples about stealing from the US. You think China will now have any reservations about hacking US companies? It was supposedly doing so before but now it doesn't even need to care if it gets caught as it can just say it's fair play whilst America if it wants to be taken seriously still needs to retain some semblance of decency.

      Or in other words, engaging in this sort of subversive manner against foreign states might be exactly the sort of thing that starts World War 3 creating such instability and such threat to the US in the first place.

      • by Sarten-X (1102295)
        Maybe that's why it was supposed to be a secret.
      • With the sanctions on Iran being softened, how likely do you think it is that Siemens is them parts that would work in centrifuges? As I recall there were many European firms that helped Saddam in his day.

        • by Xest (935314)

          There were many American firms too. There were also many American firms that helped Iran, it's whole air forces is still equipped with the likes of Tomcats and Phantoms to this day. There were also Russian firms involved too, and Chinese firms.

          I'm not really sure what your point is though exactly. That companies are free to do trade with nations not deemed to be under embargo? Why yes! you're right, and all of them do.

      • by Alan Shutko (5101)

        Well that depends, if you got a situation where America is artificially taking work away from other nations by simply stealing their knowledge, product designs and so forth then that might mean those nations become less stable and more likely to want to hurt America when they find out the only reason they're poor and unemployed is because America stole from them.

        What have we done to China so far?

        Developing countries are known for bootstrapping themselves by stealing IP from more developed nations. (The US did it when it was a developing nation: look at the history of textiles.) China has been doing it to the US for years, and our response has not been WWIII, but rather to work on gradually improving IP protections.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Monday January 27, 2014 @09:34AM (#46079777) Homepage

      That's not what the stolen information is used for. It just saves US companies from having to spend money on R&D to develop their own solutions, or helps them win contracts overseas.

      Besides which the NSA made sure that American products are compromised by weakening security protocols and not notifying companies about backdoors. Worse still since Snowden was able to gain access to all this information relatively easily it is probably safe to assume that foreign agencies have their own spies collecting it too, so know all about the NSA backdoors and vulnerabilities they discovered.

      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        It just saves US companies from having to spend money on R&D to develop their own solutions, or helps them win contracts overseas.

        ...making the American companies more economically powerful, so other countries have more reason to ally with the US, while the US remains more economically independent. That's kinda the point, no?

        so know all about the NSA backdoors and vulnerabilities they discovered.

        Perhaps they do, but as long as remaining undetected is more important than using the information they have, they can't change their behavior. I seem to recall similar incidents in WWII, where the only way Americans were warned about German movements was through cracked Enigma messages. The Allies couldn't counter

      • by rtb61 (674572) on Monday January 27, 2014 @11:15AM (#46080561) Homepage

        Almost, more accurately it passed from the NSA to select insiders who individually claim the technology and screw profits out of other Americans with stolen patents. Industrial espionage, criminal act and extortion espionage, business insider trading espionage all having nothing at all to make any country safer and everything to do with enriching select political insiders. Should it trigger cyber warfare the only question is will it be profitable for the select few.

        Once you accept that sort of espionage then fuck it, only one small step to consider foreign banks your piggy bank and start embezzling money straight out of them. Three cheers for the good old USA for working so hard to trigger global economic warfare.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by cold fjord (826450)

          It's kind of disappointing to see you stop short like that. As long as you're freeing inventing things you should claim that they are a conspiracy to form a world government for the .000001% that will then collect the sweat of the poor to form an artificial lake to float their boats for their yacht parties where endangered species will be served for dinner.

          • by snakeplissken (559127) on Monday January 27, 2014 @12:05PM (#46081081)

            a world government for the .000001%

            hmmm,

            85 people own as much as the bottom 350000000 people on earth combined - supposedly - (not half the planets wealth as reported because of course the bottom 350000000 people don't own that much) but still a metric fuck ton of planetary resources control. :)

            85 divided by 7 billion =~ 0.00000121%, i think you over estimate the size of the world government there.

            • by bingoUV (1066850)

              not half the planets wealth as reported because of course the bottom 350000000 people don't own that much

              Maybe it can be refactored as

              (half the planet)'s wealth.

              Half (the planet's wealth) is wrong, as you rightly mention.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      You might want to be careful with that line of thinking. One of the few things the US really exports is intellectual property. That's why the US government is so obsessed with bullying the rest of the world into enacting repressive copyright and patent laws. If the US makes a habit of stealing information there's no reason the rest of the world should respect their IP.

  • German transcript (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @09:15AM (#46079627)

    Can be found here http://www.tagesschau.de/snowden-interview-deutsch100.pdf

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @09:18AM (#46079659)
    Get ready for leaks about NSA using spy data to short stocks on major stock exchanges around the world! Who said crime didn't pay?
  • What does this exposition have to do with helping preserve the privacy of citizens?
  • I once worked for one of the companies involved in the JSF project. As soon as we knew that Lockheed Martin had a web app for performing a certain task, I was asked by my boss to get the entire web app's jar files, reverse engineer it, and tell him how good or bad LM's implementation was. The company for which I worked then went on to steal LM's implementation and incorporate it into its own commercial product.

    Which, and this is the best part, they then sold. To Lockheed Martin.

    • One has to wonder how much of the world's technological advances was (is?) actually dependent on IP theft? I can imagine a great deal during the cold war for sure. What about now?
    • Which, and this is the best part, they then sold. To Lockheed Martin.

      Happens all the time, in many companies. And I'm pretty sure that many people at Lockheed Martin knew exactly what was going on. Except management, who didn't want to believe it...

      Note: I'm not posting this as an AC either. So here's a note to my managers: I specifically didn't say that this was going on in our company too, nor did I outline any irony of this comment appearing in a thread about industrial espionage by the NSA...

  • by LF11 (18760) on Monday January 27, 2014 @09:37AM (#46079795) Homepage
    This just gets more and more rich as time goes. So what if every spy agency does it? That does not make it right. It is time for ordinary people to figure out whether they want this kind of action being done by their governments.

    I am very happy Snowden is choosing to release this material one drop at a time. It is like Chinese water torture against the intelligence apparatus. Please, keep the love coming!

    I think after the Murrah bombing, 9/11, and the marathon bombing, we have established that the security agencies are not capable of stopping actual terrorist activity against American citizens. Not when every supposed thwarting is really just an FBI set-up. So it is time for us to really consider what these agencies are actually doing, since they are apparently not stopping terrorism.
  • by I)_MaLaClYpSe_(I (447961) on Monday January 27, 2014 @09:45AM (#46079851)
    German sender ARD/NDR has now published the english interview in OV [www.ndr.de] after substantial criticism.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @09:58AM (#46079915)

    It's funny to hear U.S gov and confused Americans say the Chinese are stealing technology, a discussion and argument that bears no logic whatsoever, but at the same time they're doing everything they can to get information and secrets on trade, technology etc. while saying it's to protect the U.S. Hilarious.

    • > the Chinese are stealing technology, a discussion and argument that bears no logic whatsoever

      Indeed, they never steal stuff, they just request the files so they can build and test it.
      And falling labor costs looks good for the next couple quarterly reports.

      Why would they steal, when we're greedy?

  • by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Monday January 27, 2014 @10:05AM (#46079943) Homepage

    I recall Canadian Echelon operators spying on their US counterparts to win a grain trade deal with China in the 1970s.

  • It is probably pretty easy to 'justify' this type of national security corporate espionage in the name of national security. This type of corporate espionage was probably able to help us create the Stuxnet virus as that used vulnerabilities in some pretty specific hardware to do it's job and the companies themselves are not always going to help out the US Government, especially if they are a foreign entity. So they could easily say there is a national security need for this type of information collection

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Monday January 27, 2014 @10:34AM (#46080181) Homepage Journal
    What will happen with international treaties related with intellectual property when one of the main proposals of them officially don't respect the intellectual property of te companies from the other signers? Should be repelled all around the world as bad jokes?
  • by FellowConspirator (882908) on Monday January 27, 2014 @11:11AM (#46080503)

    I remember reading a story, which may well have been apocryphal, about organized crime and foreign agencies exploiting the old FBI carnivore e-mail intercept system to use for extortion and industrial espionage.

    It seems to reason that if the NSA is compromising telecommunications protocols, having routers forward copies of data, stuffing radio transmitters in computer equipment, etc., then some enterprising third parties are going to piggy back on it for their own purposes. That, and the NSA can't possibly be the only players in town undermining the integrity of the system. It seems to me that we've enabled a new class of criminal information enterprise, not just by or for the NSA.

  • NSA was watching Saudi arabians and found airbus offering illegal bribes. That was then reported. It was not stealing tech from them.
  • This is a surprise? Why?

    All nations with the resources do it for their National security - especially, if it means the difference between another nation gaining a technological edge or being able to cripple your own ability to defend yourself.

    One of the best known examples? Read up on how the Soviets copied the B-29 to create the TU-4 - rivet for rivet. Very interesting how it was done.

    The French have made it illegal to encrypt communications by companies operating within their borders. Makes the collec

  • After the wall came down in Berlin, GHW Bush commented that the intel focus would shift away from military targets to economic targets. I don't remember the exact words, but that shift in focus stuck in my mind. The cold war was an economic war. The USSR didn't have the infrastructure to survive an extended global war and we knew it. All we needed to do was keep the pressure on, force them to spend more on their military and wait. Osama bin Laden tried that same tactic on us and GW Bush fell for it hook li
  • The spying, if it is actually happening, may not necessarily be for the benefit of American industry. German companies have been known to have secret deals through intermediaries to sell banned technology to countries that their own government does not legally allow them to sell directly to because of international sanctions. Anybody here watch the American TV series "Breaking Bad"? It featured a crystal meth drug empire that used a German conglomerate to provide the equipment necessary to run the secret
  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Monday January 27, 2014 @02:16PM (#46082803)
    I am fervently hoping Greenwald, et al expose enough proof of US crimes against other countries to totally and effectively destroy TPP and any other secret hell-spawn akin to it.
  • No really?

    This is just another example of how Edward Snowden, alleged "traitor" is leaking information that everyone already knew for the past 20 years.

    The guy is a traitor, because the government and its cronies breaks their own laws at will, and they are upset he laid it out so explicitly and documented.

    What I think makes him a hero is that the level of corruption is so gigantic, it threatens the human race with final war and now it can be stopped by prosecuting Bush, Obama, Cheny and all of these congres

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