In general terms, economic espionage is the unlawful or clandestine targeting or acquisition of sensitive financial, trade or economic policy information; proprietary economic information; or technological information.
The Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (EEA), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1831-1839, defines the term "economic espionage" as the theft or misappropriation of a trade secret with the intent or knowledge that the offense will benefit any foreign government, foreign instrumentality, or foreign agent. See 18 U.S.C. § 1831. The act of receiving, purchasing, or possessing a trade secret known to have been stolen or misappropriated, as well as any attempt or conspiracy to commit economic espionage are punishable as a federal crime under the EEA. See Id.