[ISN] EXCLUSIVE: U.S. Manufacturer Wants Commerce Dept. to Penalize China for Cyberattack

http://complex.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/07/01/us_manufacturer_wants_commerce_dept_to_penalize_china_for_cyberattack_0 By Shane Harris Foreign Policy July 1, 2014 A U.S. solar panel manufacturer whose business secrets were allegedly stolen by Chinese computer hackers has asked the U.S. government to investigate the matter, setting in motion a process that could see the United States impose trade penalties for the first time in response to state-sponsored cyber-espionage against an American company. In a filing with the Commerce Department on Tuesday, July 1, the U.S. subsidiary of German company SolarWorld, which builds solar panels and equipment, asked officials to investigate allegations contained in a recent criminal indictment accusing five members of the People’s Liberation Army with hacking the company’s computers and stealing proprietary information. Prosecutors say that the hackers took SolarWorld’s price lists, product designs, and communications between the company and its lawyers in a series of computer incursions that began in 2012. “The [government of China’s] theft of SolarWorld’s trade and financial information has inflicted, and will likely continue to inflict significant and, as yet, unquantified harm on SolarWorld,” the company told the Commerce Department. But the hackers weren’t just after SolarWorld’s product information. They also allegedly stole information about a trade case that SolarWorld has been pressing against Chinese solar panel manufacturers, which it accuses of unfairly dumping their cheap products in the U.S. market. The compromised information could give Chinese officials a peek at the evidence the company planned to use in its trade case. “As the indictment makes clear, the focus of much of the cyber theft was related to SolarWorld’s trade remedy cases against Chinese solar manufacturers,” the company said. This suggests that the hacking has a “direct bearing” on the Commerce Department’s investigation of Chinese dumping, which has been occurring for years. […]