Whilst legislators in the UK concentrate on the rights of workers for privacy whilst at work, they are putting at further risk the trade secrets of British firms. Particularly at this time of lockdown, when so many are working at home, technology firms in particular need to be ultra-aware that their foreign competitors, particularly Chinese government-sponsored companies, are on the prowl. In the past seven days, two unrelated incidents have somehow managed to end up on this same page.
Firstly, yet another espionage case in the US has resulted in a prison sentence; the latest in a long line coming before the courts. The US Dept of Justice has revealed a 30-month term for a thief who stole scientific data from a research centre for the “benefit of herself and Chinese State institutions”. She was caught transferring secrets from work computers via email.
24 hours before reading this, we at IPFGB were indirectly approached by a Chinese company to locate a sizeable number of Chinese nationals working in the UK. Immediately suspicious, we applied the ‘legitimate interest test’, as required by data protection law, and rigidly employed here in every case, enquiring why such an assignment was being instructed. As expected, the potential task instantly evaporated and is no doubt currently being completed by a less than scrupulous outfit. One is left to wonder what justifiable reason the Chinese could have invented. Why would they want to know where their nationals were living and working . . . other than to pressure them into spying?
British firms need to protect their intellectual property and their trade secrets. By far, they are most vulnerable from rogue employees. At IPFGB, we are invariably called in after the horse has bolted. But we are able to advise on how best to introduce defensive software which will track unauthorised access; and do so quite lawfully.
Article submitted by Member Dick Smith QPM (F1520) at IP Forensics [GB]