The NSA is now said to be discussing with Australia or at least asked by Australia if it wants information that Australia’s surveillance agency got concerning communications between Indonesia’s government and its American law firm as they pertain to ongoing WTO litigation. Indonesia and the U.S. are involved in WTO trade litigation. Indonesia is a complainant against the U.S. over the U.S. ban of clove cigarette imports into the U.S.
It is argued by U.S. officials that economic espionage is essential to the national interests of the U.S. That economic espionage is not intended to favor particular U.S. firms. It is also argued that this spying does not involve sharing data with private firms or to benefit particular firms or industries.
Does this argument of focused economic espionage really sound totally convincing? Clearly U.S. economic espionage is significantly different from that of China’s but are we coming a bit closer?
Are clove cigarettes really a matter of national security? “Spying by NSA Ally Entangled U.S. Law Firm.” New York Times (Feb. 17, 2014).