But the bigger news may be the ultimate impact of the cases on international trade. Quoted in Foreign Policy, John Carlin, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, discussing the future direction of the US case against China on the cyber-theft issue:
Carlin promised last week that more espionage cases are coming, and officials have said the next targets could be Russian hackers. In his 2012 interview, Carlin said that the United States might also prosecute employees of a corporation. “Whether it is a state-owned enterprise or a state-supported enterprise in China, if you can figure out and prove that they’ve committed the crime, charging the company means they can’t do business in the U.S. or in Europe,” Carlin said. “It affects their reputation and that then causes them to recalculate: ‘Hey, is this worth it?'”
Imagine what globalization will begin to look like if particular enterprises are barred from trade with the US. This, I suppose, is an unintended consequence. But for now in the US there are no voices crying out for the virtue of free trade, as much as there are voices calling out for enforcement of rules, and not just rules around hacking. The vibe has changed since the late 1990s on free trade. These sorts of cases will probably just fuel the anti-freetrade crowd.