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Taiwan lawmakers approve 12-year prison term for economic espionage

Economic espionage added as new category to National Security Act

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Legislators add industrial espionage to the National Security Act. (Pixabay photo)

Legislators add industrial espionage to the National Security Act. (Pixabay photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Citizens who pass on vital technology to foreign agents will face a maximum of 12 years in prison, according to amendments to the National Security Act approved at a first reading Thursday (April 7).

Members of the Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee agreed in principle with most of the elements in a proposal submitted by the Cabinet, CNA reported.

The new clause about economic espionage specifically mentions the transfer of key core technologies to other countries, China, Hong Kong, Macau, overseas enemy forces, and their organizations, groups, and emissaries likely to harm Taiwan.

In addition, confidential information about vital technologies cannot be used while overseas, including in China, Hong Kong, and Macau. The text defined “vital technology” as technology likely to harm Taiwan’s national security, business competitiveness or economic development, if it fell into enemy hands.

The version approved by the legislative committee stipulated prison sentences from five to 12 years and fines from NT$5 million (US$173,500) to NT$100 million if the individual obtained the technology through illegal means. Use of the technology overseas can be sanctioned by prison terms from three to 10 years and by fines from NT$5 million to NT$50 million.

However, the fines could be increased two to 10 times if profit generated by the espionage exceeds the maximum amount of those fines, CNA reported.