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Criminal defense attorneys scramble to make sense of the new rash of alleged international cyber crimes as nations point fingers at one another and raise spying accusations. At the center of the issue sit China and the US. Both nations claim to want the same thing – virtual privacy and security for all. Ironically, both have also accused each other of violating the written and unwritten laws of cyberspace designed to keep the peace.
“We share an interest in a secure and predictable and orderly cyber environment,” stated one US official when questioned about the relationship between China and the US.
While that is probably true, the orderly cyber environment appears to be a request the two countries are directing at each other. Both the US and China have hurled cyber hacking accusations in one another’s direction recently.
The Events in Question
On July 6, 2014 an official representing the Chinese side of the argument sent a rather accusatory email claiming that an informant had released information revealing a US internet privacy invasion in the form of hacking presidential information. This information was said to belong to former president Hu Jintao. Just a few short days later, the US fired back with a slew of accusations insinuating that Chinese native businessman Su Bin hacked vital defense information from major US companies like Boeing. If either claim holds truth, military secrets across borders are now being shared over internet lines. Su Bin’s criminal defense attorney refused to comment on the issue and Su will remain in US police custody until July 18 which will mark the first of his many hearings.
Fort Lauderdale news outlet the Sun Sentinel pointed out the fact that while the two countries remain at a standstill regarding cyberspace spy issues they have come together in agreement on other major issues including climate change and the prohibition of nuclear weapons possession. According to a recently conducted national poll, US residents are tied with 41% of residents believing that the United States should crack down on China and 51% of residents maintaining the belief that the US should work towards building a positive alliance with the country.
The Crime of Espionage
Espionage is legally defined as a subset of evidence gathering that poses a threat to a government or institution. Spying on a corporate organization is generally referred to as industrial espionage and in many cases is punishable by law. The US and China have shared quite a colorful history regarding espionage accusations. The Cold War was fueled by espionage accusations hurled back and forth between the two nations. Each accused the other of gathering evidence related to nuclear weapons secrets. Over the course of the past six years, the US has accused a total of 57 defendants of participating in espionage for the Chinese government. In turn, China has called the US hypocritical for making such wild claims while allegedly engaging in the same variety of criminal activity.
As of today, espionage is the only known crime that is punishable by law yet endorsed and supported by the government. Spies are employed by the United States Intelligence Community. They are often used for the sole purpose of infiltrating enemy ranks, obtaining key military information and spreading false information in an attempt to mislead a rival country.
About the Author:
Michael D. Leader is a criminal lawyer with Fort Lauderdale law firm Leader & Leader P.A. specializing in all forms of criminal law, Leader and partner George Leader offer years of legal experience and commitment to ethics.