The Chinese Hacking Indictments and the Frail “Norm” Against Commercial Espionage

On Monday, the Justice Department unveiled an indictment of three Chinese nationals employed by Chinese cybersecurity firm Boyusec (博御信息), charging them with hacking into the computer systems of Moody’s Analytics, Siemens AG, and GPS developer Trimble Inc. to steal confidential business information “for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain.”

A Pittsburgh grand jury reportedly returned the indictment in September, but prosecutors unsealed the charges this week after seeking assistance from the Chinese government to halt the Boyusec activities and receiving “no meaningful response,” according to a DOJ spokesperson.

The U.S. government and U.S. companies have long complained about rampant Chinese economic cyberespionage, and the Boyusec case has drawn comparisons to the May 2014 indictment of five members of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for similar acts of alleged cybertheft aimed at providing competitive advantages to Chinese companies.

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