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S. 678 (112th): Economic Espionage Penalty Enhancement Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

12/8/2011--Reported to Senate amended. Economic Espionage Penalty Enhancement Act - Amends the federal criminal code to increase (from 15 to 20 years) the term of imprisonment for economic espionage (i.e., stealing or obtaining, duplicating or conveying, or buying or possessing trade secrets without authorization intending or knowing that the offense will benefit any foreign government, foreign instrumentality, or foreign agent).

Directs the United States Sentencing Commission to review and amend the federal sentencing guidelines and policy statements applicable to persons convicted of offenses relating to the transmission of a stolen trade secret outside of the United States or economic espionage to reflect the intent of Congress that penalties for such offenses: (1) reflect the seriousness of, and potential and actual harm caused by, such offenses; and (2) provide adequate deterrence.

Directs the Commission to: (1) consider the extent to which such guidelines and statements appropriately account for the simple misappropriation of a trade secret, including the sufficiency of the existing enhancement for such offenses to address the seriousness of this conduct; (2) consider additional enhancements to account for any transmission of a stolen trade secret outside of the United States and any such transmission that is committed for the benefit of a foreign government; (3) consider establishing a minimum offense level for offenses relating to such transmission; (4) ensure that the guidelines and statements reflect the serious nature of such offenses and the need to deter such conduct; (5) ensure reasonable consistency with other relevant directives, guidelines and statements, and federal statutes; and (6) ensure that the guidelines adequately meet the purposes of sentencing.

Directs the Commission to complete its review within 180 days and to issue a report explaining any decision not to adopt any of the specific recommendations.