Government Spying for Commercial Gain: Problems and Alternatives

By: Mark Burton


With the end of the Cold War, the roles and missions, of US intelligence organizations are under scrutiny. Assumptions that presuppose the primacy of economic competitiveness in the post-Cold War era are spurring a reevaluation of the traditional view that the US Government should not use its intelligence assets to give US companies competitive advantages over foreign firms. Analysis of the concept of such government-sponsored industrial spying, however, reveals numerous potential problems. These include legal issues, limited cost effectiveness, multinational corporations and, potentially, an increased risk of international conflict if such actions are pursued aggressively. Nevertheless, other countries are doing it, US companies are victims of it, and the US Government has to decide what to do about it.

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