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Economic espionage reckless threat to global economy not just individual states, says CIGI report

Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)report released.

Waterloo, Canada – June 24, 2014 – Economic espionage and cybercrime are short-sighted activities that jeopardize Internet stability and global online commerce, according to a new report issued by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).

In Global Cybercrime: The Interplay of Politics and Law, Aaron Shull says that cybercrime policy requires a conceptual reorientation to be viewed as a “threat to the global economy, not to individual states.” Doing so will help enhance the international cooperation needed to prevent long-term financial drawbacks and enhance trust in electronic commerce.

Shull examines domestic laws and recent cyber interactions between China and the United States, particularly the Night Dragon attack and 31-count indictment against five Chinese government officials by the US Department of Justice, to highlight the practical difficulties and political will required to effectively prosecute cybercriminals. He notes, however, that the coordination needed “at the international level is unlikely to be forthcoming in the near future.”

“The fact that a number of governments routinely engage in economic cyber espionage and cybercrime erodes digital trust within the larger stakeholder community,” says Shull. These online attacks have “the potential to destabilize and erode relations between governments,” as well as undermine consumer confidence and cause companies to lose profit and suffer financially.

“The problem is that effectively interdicting acts of international cybercrime is not simply a legal challenge; it is an inherently political one as well,” according to Shull. “If governments coalesced around the notion of trying to prevent the long-term degradation of trust in the online economy, they may profitably advance the dialogue away from mutual suspicion and toward mutual cooperation.”

To download and read a free PDF copy of Global Cybercrime: The Interplay of Politics and Law, please visit:

The paper is the latest in the Internet Governance Papers series, part of CIGI’s Global Security & Politics project, “Organized Chaos: Reimagining the Internet.”


Aaron Shull is a research fellow and CIGI’s counsel and corporate secretary. An expert in global security issues and international law, he contributes to research activity under CIGI’s Global Security & Politics Program and International Law Research Program, and advises CIGI’s senior management on a range of legal issues Called to the Bar in 2009, Aaron has practiced law for a number of organizations, focusing on international, regulatory and environmental law. He has taught courses at the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and was previously a staff editor for the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.


Kevin Dias, Communications Specialist, CIGI
Tel: 519.885.2444, ext. 7238, Email: [email protected] 

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. Conducting an active agenda of research, events and publications, CIGI’s interdisciplinary work includes collaboration with policy, business and academic communities around the world. CIGI was founded in 2001 by Jim Balsillie, then co-CEO of Research In Motion (BlackBerry), and collaborates with and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of strategic partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit

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