Modern field guide to security and privacy

Watch live: Rethinking commercial cyber espionage

Join Passcode and the Atlantic Council's Cyber Statecraft Initiative for a discussion on new ideas on commercial cyber espionage and intellectual property theft on Wednesday, June 29 from 4 to 5:30 pm.

The United States is nearly alone in professing that states should not spy for the private sector's commercial benefit. As Gen. Michael Hayden (Ret.), former Director of National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, puts it: "I've conducted espionage. I went after state secrets and I actually think we're pretty good at it. Where I object is where you have state power being used against private enterprise for commercial purposes." Instead, the United States has strongly promoted innovation and intellectual property, publicly berating or punishing countries that engage in the systematic theft of technology, trade secrets, and proprietary information.

However, as indictments and advances in cyber defense have proven insufficient to secure commercial secrets, it is now time to consider alternative policy options to defend the private sector. Perhaps to save the principles behind banning commercial espionage, we must first embrace it. Could the United States reach better economic and national security outcomes if it joined its adversaries in spying for profit? Could like-minded nations create bilateral no-spy agreements, slowly expanding these into a global institution? Or would experimenting with economic espionage erode the West's credibility and moral high-ground, leaving us worse off than before?

The panelists will debate whether the United States should continue to abstain from economic espionage, or whether these challenges demand innovative, even radical solutions.



Dmitri Alperovitch, @DmitriCyber, Cofounder and CTO CrowdStrike; Nonresident Senior Fellow, Cyber Statecraft Initiative, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security Atlantic Council

Stewart Baker, @stewartbakerPartner Steptoe & Johnson, LLP

Harvey Rishikof, Chair Advisory Committee for the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security

Moderated by:

Melanie Teplinsky, Adjunct Professor (@auwcl) American University Washington College of Law

Event details:

Wednesday, June 29, 2015
 4 - 5:30 pm
 Atlantic Council 1030 15th Street, NW 12th Floor (West Tower Elevator)
 Washington, DC

You can follow Passcode on Twitter at @CSMPasscode and Atlantic Council at @AtlanticCouncil

Join the conversation via the hashtag #ACCyber.

Sign up for Passcode's weekly emails at


During 2014, the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative continued to promote its ideas on Saving Cyberspace, examining the best (and worst) cyber futures, and collaborating on groundbreaking ideas with Fortune 500 companies, governments, and other stakeholders.

Our 2014 Year in Review details our accomplishments, efforts, and programming ranging from our groundbreaking project with Zurich Insurance Group (video here) to our student cyber policy competition ‘Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge’.

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