FBI to Silicon Valley firms: your Chinese and Russian workers are spying on you

Originally published at: FBI to Silicon Valley firms: your Chinese and Russian workers are spying on you | Boing Boing


Industrial espionage by private and state actors is an old and widespread practise, and democracies do it too. Russia and China, as one would expect of authoritarian regimes, just tend to be more heavy-handed and thuggish about how they recruit their foreign assets.


Probably some of your American ones too


In other words, nothing new.

This spying method is covered in basic security training modules used by many businesses and government.


Anecdotally, I have heard direct stories of this. Ex-govvies in the private industry getting the heads-up about coworkers.


where is the news here? hi tech spying going on? also there is some germ out there getting people sick, so watch out.


Next thing you’ll be telling me the pope has a funny hat


The FBI might want to take a look at whom their comrade Nikolai Shenkin is connected to.


Boris wants your secrets.

Yeah, I heard that somewhere before…


" The challenge with the briefings is not stoking the flames of anti-Chinese or anti-Russian resentment in the U.S., especially at a time when xenophobia is already on the rise. Shenkin said he doesn’t want to start a witch hunt, or make companies afraid to hire people with Chinese or Russian names.

“The idea that we’re out there, targeting Russian Americans, or Chinese Americans, or anybody of those ethnic groups — I mean, nothing could be further from the truth. We do not live under any delusion that one ethnic group has some sort of a genetic proclivity towards dishonest behavior. Absolutely not the case,” Shenkin said.

He says it’s a misconception, furthered by the media, that the FBI is targeting Chinese Americans when the reality, as he views it, is that the FBI is trying to protect them from the Chinese government. “From our perspective, the Chinese American community is being exploited by China. They’re being targeted and exploited and forced to do illegal things by the government of China,” he said.

The problem with that rhetoric is that it treats “China” or “Chinese Americans” as a homogenous body and introduces the idea that a person of Chinese ethnicity could be a threat when it’s really based on the individual’s vulnerabilities beyond whether they have family in an autocratic state, said Margaret Lewis, a professor at Seton Hall, who has argued for a rethink of the DOJ’s larger China Initiative.

“That’s creating this construct that Chinese Americans are vulnerable, by reason [of] being Chinese Americans, when I think we need to disaggregate that and look much more at an individual level,” Lewis said. While there’s no doubt China has exploited family connections some Chinese Americans may have, she said, there’s also concern that it’s both grouping too many people as vulnerable when they’re not, and potentially excluding other vectors of vulnerabilities, like employees with gambling problems who may be desperate to sell information for cash.

Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington, said in a statement that the media had “frequently hyped” the topic of spies, but that “quite a few later proved to be out of nothing.” He added that “the cross-border flow of talent has driven technological and economic progress all across the world” and that he hoped the U.S. would “work to promote instead of disrupting China-US scientific exchange and cooperation.”

Shenkin emphasized that the goal of the FBI’s briefings, which predate the DOJ’s China Initiative, is to focus on individual vulnerabilities, rather than having companies walk away not trusting their Chinese or Russian employees.

“What we’re trying to say is, if you hire somebody that has a vulnerability to an autocracy, your best course of action is to help that person, to train that person to understand what their vulnerabilities are so they can protect themselves and the company can help protect that individual from exploitation by that autocratic government,” he said. “That’s our goal. And that’s why we do this brief.”"

SMH. Why would Americans of Chinese decent be any more vulnerable to the CCP than any disgruntled employee looking to leak info for whatever reason? I guess this is how they force Asian Americans out of the workplace the “nice way?”


I work for a Chinese company. Our biggest threat? Chinese employees spying and stealing secrets from our Chinese facility. One company even put a public bounty on our design for a yet to be released product. We are the industry leader, so we targeted. On the plus side, it means I don’t have to fret the provenance of any of our tech. The competition is crap.

I can believe that stuff like this happens, but c’mon. This isn’t being said (and repeated) simply because it’s helpful security advice. It’s absolutely meant to stoke paranoia about Chinese workers.

An American of Chinese decent may still have family in China (say a grandmother) which can be used as leverage (“It would be a shame if Grandma didn’t get dialysis any more”). That may be easier to find then a disgruntled employee. Or at least an employee disgruntled enough to not think that if they get caught not only will they be fired from the job they are not happy with, but that employer may be able to tell others to not hire them (as in responding to requests for employment verifications with “we will verify Mr. X worked for us until terminated for cause, we can not share more details as a lawsuit is pending”).

I mean companies are frequently cowards and don’t share anything more then dates, but sometimes they will note “terminated” as opposed to “voluntarily departed”, of corse voluntary covers a lot of ground (from “didn’t want, nor need to continue to work at an abuse factory”, to “found a job with more pay”, to “quit before failure to ‘improve’ while on a ‘performance improvement plan’”)…and companies will seldom share anything there.




and they do it all through your phone… or whatever smart device you are carrying… but dont look at the spying that u.s. is doing on you!

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