U.S. Colleges: A Front Line For International Spying

Typically, university researchers aren’t required to sign nondisclosure agreements, which run counter to the ethic of openness.

NPR, | updated: 18:38

Spying
Spying
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Academic research offers a valuable, vulnerable, and low-risk target for foreign espionage.

Despite pursuing groundbreaking technologies for the Pentagon and the intelligence community, university laboratories are less protected than their corporate counterparts, reflecting a culture oriented toward collaboration and publication.

Typically, university researchers aren’t required to sign nondisclosure agreements, which run counter to the ethic of openness.

“There’s a lot less control than in a company like Boeing,” says John Villasenor, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Universities are ripe pickings for anybody who’s interested in accessing intellectual property.”








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