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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 11, 1996


Today I have signed into law H.R. 3723, the "Economic Espionage Act of 1996." It strengthens our protections against the theft or misuse of proprietary business information. It will help us crack down on acts like software piracy and copyright infringement that cost American businesses billions of dollars in lost revenues. And it will advance our national security.

This legislation makes the theft or misappropriation of trade secrets a Federal crime. The Act provides distinct monetary penalties and prison sentences for defined acts of economic espionage and trade secret theft. It also provides for criminal forfeiture of property used in or derived from economic espionage or trade secret theft and preserves the confidentiality of trade secrets in court proceedings.

This Act is an outstanding example of my Administration, the Congress, and the business community working together to provide law enforcement with the tools to combat the problems of economic espionage and trade secret theft.

Trade secrets are an integral part of virtually every sector of our economy and are essential to maintaining the health and competitiveness of critical industries operating in the United States. Economic espionage and trade secret theft threaten our Nation's national security and economic well-being.

Until today, Federal law has not accorded appropriate or adequate protection to trade secrets, making it difficult to prosecute thefts involving this type of information. Law enforcement officials relied instead on antiquated laws that have not kept pace with the technological advances of modern society. This Act establishes a comprehensive and systemic approach to trade secret theft and economic espionage, facilitating investigations and prosecutions.

This bill also strengthens protection for our national information infrastructure by eliminating gaps in the criminal laws covering attacks against computers and the information they contain. Importantly, it does so with without impeding the development of legitimate uses of the information infrastructure.

This Act will protect the trade secrets of all businesses operating in the United States, foreign and domestic alike, from economic espionage and trade secret theft and deter and punish those who would intrude into, damage, or steal from computer networks. I am pleased to sign it into law.



October 11, 1996.

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