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USA Today Article on Corporate Espionage: Time for Damage Control Again?

Curious as to people's thoughts on today's USA Today article on "corporate espionage." While the article doesn't directly link the CI discipline to the subversive information gathering tactics featured in the article, it will no doubt once again raise the perception that CI is nothing more than corporate spying. Thoughts on what the CI profession, SCIP, and all of us should be doing on a regular basis to continue to dispel these associations?

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Taking account of that message ( ), in which appears not only my attachment partnerstwo_wschodnie.pdf (eastern_partnership.pdf in Polish) but also the phrase PROPAGATION OF OUR EDUCATIONAL IDEAS ALL OVER THE WORLD, I cannot overcome the temptation to inform you about my PROPAGATION OF OUR COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE IDEAS ALL OVER THE WORLD. I did it four month ago for my Information security ( ) students ( ) and I've done it anew the day before yesterday in one of the discussions at . Do also you propagate our CP ideas all over the world in order to dispel associations highlighted above by Ken Sawka?
Ken hi

I have a small request - if the article doesn't directly link the CI discipline to ..... then why are you? It's you who raise the perception ... the associations you so wish to dispel are in your head.

It seems to me that this is one of the things that has bugged SCIP for years; never being able to get beyond the need to apologise and explain what CI is not. Why not use the time to explain and advance what CI is instead.

I stopped attending a certain CI forum because every meeting began with the same ritual of apologetics - finding the latest person or journalist who had said or written something that could be construed as .... and then explaining (again) why "we" and "SCIP" and "CI" were not about that.

If we (SCIP and others) were to stop raising those apparent "connections" between CI and swine flu, or CI and espionage, or CI and whatever - the "connections" and those perceptions would be weakened ...

That is not to say that we shouldn't be vigilant and correct gross misperceptions where necessary - but the best way is to surely move on, to develop CI as an essential and integral part of doing business, build up its research literature and an academic tradition, and the misperceptions will wither away.

Am I being naive? I don't think so.


Michael, your advice deserves to be reconsidered by all of us. However, it's no use playing ostrich. ;-)

What I feel is that we must educate journalists like I do.

I tell them that we scan the environment for FBC like they do and follow the FBC like the journalists and Analyse it like them.

But where we DIFFER is that we go a step further and PREDICT.
Good one Michael.

Thanks Ken. I have the marvellous opportunity to engage with a similar passionate newbie in the UK from the journalist profession. He is about to embark on a series of interviews with the characters in the UK field promoting the values through a series of articles. I believe his initial focus will be on business war games. As Ben Gilad stated in his most recent title, given the high turn over rate of CEOs, why doesn't everyone one coming new into that role demystify the capabilities of the company but undertaking some role play. Indeed, why not indeed!
We need more CI speaker to get involve in public blog or media. We also need to speak more about the concept of CI. keep in mind, " Mindset is more important than skillset" It's our job to say out there what's corporate espionage and whats CI. Get to understand your industry, know the trandsetters, know journalists, writers, consultants who are in your industry, is normal CI activity. We need to make the different by our action, and our regular activity, but is it normal for an executif to know from A to Z it's own industry? Some will say that is normal activity, others will taxed as spying. We could all have a clear message, but there is a misunderstanding of what is espionage, spying, or competitive intelligence. For me it is important to tell people what I do, when they ask question about it. But for people involved in CI, as soon you say those two simple letters, CI, a light is turn on and, sometimes magic spark!
"A Need for Global Competitive Intelligence Regulation and Protocol"

I refer you to the article "USA Today Article on Corporate Espionage: Time for Damage Control Again?"

The issue is not about damage control now but whether certain laws have been breached in performing Corporate Espionage in the first place.

In ASEAN region, such as Malaysia and Singapore, there are no specific legislation pertaining to the dark side of Competitive Intelligence a.k.a Corporate Espionage.

The Shariah Competitive Intelligence Best Practice though prohibits destructive and unethical Competitive Intelligence activities encompassing all aspects of Corporate Espionage.

Jeong Chun Phuoc
Now that's pretty interesting - what does Sharia say about competition in general and CI practices specifically - even "ethical" ones which might not have the best interests of the counter-party at heart?
The Shariah Competitive Intelligence Best Practice(SCI) though prohibits destructive and unethical Competitive Intelligence activities encompassing all aspects of Corporate Espionage.

One major principle espoused under the SCI is the universal principle "La Dhara wa la dhirar" (In Arabic : Do not cause harm or bring Harm to Others) (or as explained by other scholar : 'no harm shall be inflicted or reciprocated in Islam').

The "La Dhara wa la dhirar" principle exemplify the prohibition of destructive and unethical Competitive Intelligence activities encompassing all aspects of Corporate Espionage.

Jeong Chun Phuoc
[an advocate of Shariah Competitive Intelligence(SCI)
Reminds me of a funny story.

Some years ago I was interviewed for a business magazine's cover story about CI. My picture was to appear on the magazine cover. After the photo shoot, I idly asked the magazine folk what title they would give the story. They innocently and proudly said, "I Spy." I almost panicked. Who would want his photo, his name, and his company name on a magazine cover with such a title?

I asked them if they would consider other titles.They said sure. For once I thought quickly. I suggested "Get Smart." They immediately agreed, and that's how the magazine came out.

I'm not meaning to make light of people's concerns. I'm merely suggesting that lots of people just don't know what CI is about. (I encounter the same thing in my field, business war games, where people think it's about attacking competitors. Some companies want to call their war games "strategy competitions" or other names.) The more we present a positive message (e.g., Eric and Arik's comments), the more we dispel the myths. It might even help for us to explicitly label the practices we don't accept as CI and say, clearly and simply and calmly, "CI is not [label]."
Hello, Mark, your reasoning would be described in Polish by two words: "zaklinanie rzeczywistości". Is the wording "conjuration of reality" really ( ) the English equivalent of them? Matthew Griffin writing in the article Image and Ideology in the Work of Heiner Müller (Monatshefte, Vol. 93, No. 4) the sentence "Language has almost a magical function, language as a conjuration of reality, not so much as its description" has convinced me of that. Incidentally, also I want the war games were the only wars [1008 The only wars for warmongers 08/23/1999 12:20 pm EDT, TadFromPoland ( ), available now at ]. However, isn't that wish of ours still nothing more than wishful thinking?

Best wishes,


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