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[Opinion] Technology Leak is Equal to a Terror Attack

Posted May. 22, 2007 03:22,   


Prosecutors arrested four former and current researchers at POSDATA who attempted to leak core WiBro mobile Internet technology to the U.S. recently.

The four conspired to smuggle the technology to a U.S. company after completing it in another company they had set up in the U.S.

Not much time has passed since the public cheered at the news that a domestic company developed the technology enabling us to use the Internet anytime, anywhere, even while moving. It is staggering that 15 trillion won worth of technology would have been stolen if the police had not thwarted the plot.

Former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh once said, “In the post Cold-War era, the biggest threat to U.S. national security is industrial espionage,” and Korea is no exception in this respect. A while ago, the police also arrested former workers at Kia Motors who had tried to steal automobile technologies worth 22 trillion won. According to the data complied by the government, the total value of high-technologies that came close to being leaked over the last four years exceeds 100 trillion won. As a county where there are no natural resources to depend on and technological competitiveness is the only way to survive, technology leaks are the biggest threat to the nation. These incidents have driven home the saying that “Industrial espionage is nothing less than terrorism.”

The world’s major economies also regard the leak of industrial technologies as a big threat to their national security. In the U.S., for example, the federal government itself investigates economic espionage cases and individual spies are subject to a prison term of not more than 15 years or up to a $500,000 fine. The “2005 National Anti-Espionage Strategies” presented by the federal government declared that the top priority of anti-spy agencies is the protection of state-of-the-art technologies. Even China, the country where our domestic technologies are being leaked the most, enacted a national security law in 2003 and severely punishes those who leak industrial secrets.

The Korean government also enacted the Anti-Leak Law on Industrial Technology, which came into force on April 28. The law requires a company to obtain government permission when it wants to transfer core technologies overseas. The law also punishes industrial spies with a prison sentence of up to 7 years or a fine of up to 700 million won. Some criticize that the punishment is too light for criminals who leak technology worth several trillion won. Given legal measures have limited effectiveness in weeding out economic espionage, businesses should increase investment in security. The National Intelligence Service provides counseling on security management. One can reach the NIS by dialing 111.

Hong Kwon-hee, Editorial Writer, konihong@donga.com