There is a global cyber-espionage campaign threatening the U.S. economic competitiveness, a new National Intelligence Estimate states. The source of this to a great degree is China. The Obama administration is considering filing a complaint in the WTO concerning theft of trade secrets. This has been called “state-led cyberwar.” The U.S. is also raising this cyber issue in the “strategic security dialogue” with China.
Cyber-espionage for commercial purposes has become the newest global trade issue with grave national security implications. It raises the importance of structuring a new legal architecture, nationally and globally, to address this issue. This is of course in addition to the broader issue of cyber-conflict in a geopolitical context involving both state and non-state actors.
The Obama administration should take the lead on this issue and work through multilateral institutions as well as bilateral negotiations. Unilateral actions should be a last resort. But new and measured U.S. legislation is required now to protect its economic sovereignty.