An article came out today from a site called Mondaq that publishes news on laws – especially corporate ones. The article describes new, harsher, upgraded penalties for stealing trade secrets. The most notable of which are monetary. For an individual, fines were raised from $500,000 to $5,000,000, or fifteen years imprisonment! Corporate fines were raised from a $10,000,000 cap to up to three times the company-whose-trade-secrets-were-stolen’s worth. There was also an additional amendment that changes the former law from applying only to products a company sells, to now where even ideas and services are protected.
In my opinion, this law is another display of where the government’s real interests come from. I think that this is just another display of the fact that messing with people’s money is more heinous than violent crimes to our politicians. For instance, according to this site, the average sentence for a rape that went to trial (the higher side of the spectrum) was just under 25 years. The average of someone who plead out (the low side) was about 11 1/2 years. This is for rape – a traumatic, life altering experience that really doesn’t need a description from me to put it into perspective. But for stealing a trade secret, a person can sit in jail for 15 years and/or take a $5,000,000 fine. I find this beyond outrageous and utterly disgusting. How can someone, let alone the United States government, value money more than people’s lives? It is my unyielding position that violent crimes should face the harshest penalties possible because there is an actual victim who has to face years of life-altering consequences. Money is worthless and can always be replaced. I can see harsher penalties for companies that pull stuff like Enron did, or that cause another company to go completely bankrupt, but what that comes down to is that someone is going to have to go through the temporary displeasure of having to relocate and find a new job, or, the more miserable case of having to rebuild your life savings from scratch. I think that neither case is comparable to having to live the rest of your life without a parent because they were mugged and killed, or all the psychological issues that stem from being raped. Anyhow, maybe I’ve digressed a bit from the topic. Do you guys think that the punishments for stealing trade secrets should be raised? Any other thoughts on the issue?