The Economic Espionage Act was created in order to make the theft of trade secrets a crime. The Act is based on the provision that stealing proprietary information in order to give it to a foreign nation or organisation is illegal. This includes sensitive corporate information that could undermine the corporate sector. The Act was passed by Congress in 1996, and the FBI responded to new laws and responsibilities under the Act by creating the Economic Espionage Unit.
The Importance of Combating Economic Espionage
Economic espionage is a great priority to the FBI, and is considered the second most threat to the nation’s security, after terrorism. The Economic Espionage Unit jobs have been prompted by a number of factors:
1. The prevalence of foreign operatives attempting to gain sensitive information from the U.S.’s heavily guarded defence industry, and less guarded industries including technology development and pharmacy.
2. The growth of the threat of espionage to the U.S., which is at the point that it creates a constant danger to the economic strength of the country. The United States faces billions in lost income as a direct result of piracy, the sale of counterfeit goods and the theft of trade information.
3. The direct impact of these criminal activities on the safety of the community at large, including national security. For instance, counterfeit drugs, software and aircraft components put the public’s safety at risk across several sectors, posing serious threat to the lives of everyday Americans and undermining the U.S.’s defence capabilities.
Functions of the Economic Espionage Unit
Professionals and Agents working in the Economic Espionage Unit will work on the following jobs:
1. Looking into every theft and attempted theft of sensitive U.S. trade information.
2. Cooperating with security system producers, both digital and physical, to maintain and create sophisticated security systems.
3. Keeping track of the goings on of relevant industries and their leaders.
4. Working with leaders in key industries to create a full comprehension of developing technologies.
5. Harnessing corporate and academic experts in order to assist in identifying the U.S.’s economic vulnerabilities.
6. Providing Congress with reports about progress in programs to stop economic espionage.
7. Working with police around the world and from different nations to encourage them to take a tougher stance on intellection property theft.
Salary for Economic Espionage Unit
Special Agents, analysis and other professional support staff comprise the Economic Espionage Unit. Both Special Agents and certain intelligence analysts may also be field officers, which gives them a pay grade of between GS-10 to GS-15. White collar staff and other officers generally range from between GS-7 or GS-9, and in some cases, up to GS-12 pay grade. There might also be a 12.5 to 28.7 percent cost of living adjustment for Economic Espionage Unit employees and a 10 to 25 percent Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime addition to base salaries.