- China is well known to steal IP from the US, but Indians now also appear to be doing this.
- And this is even happening with classified US information.
Those companies that place IT contractors have a lot of control over those contractors. This is a story that I have not heard of before where the Indian recruiter or handler asks for classified US documents to be sent to them.
Using Contractors for What Appears to be Some Type of Espionage
See the following quotation from a person with information from working with Pratt & Whitney in the defense (that is non-commercial) side of their business.
The way the scam worked other than what I already told you, is that they had a guy from India they called a “Guru/Mentor” who would call you every night around 9:00pm and ask you if you ran into any problems on the job. If you did then with his “superior knowledge” he would try to help you out.He would ask you to email documents about your project to him even if those documents were classified.(emphasis added) At the time, I was working for Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut. See this Wikipedia description for details. They are the makers of the F22, F135 and F35 fighter jets. Because of the classified nature of the documents, I felt highly uncomfortable sharing this information with a foreigner.
I even asked my supervisor(American) if it was legal for me to do so.
He said don’t worry about it as long as you black-out some information before you send it.
This Odd Story
One question is, why were these documents being requested.
As a previous long term IT contractor myself, I don’t ever recall a placing company or recruiter asking for project documentation. Most recruiters don’t know anything about the work being done and concern themselves with placement which comes down to keyword matching and then reviewing the suitability of candidates for roles, which includes things like reviewing their background, checking references, etc.
Furthermore, the vast majority of IT recruiters would not be qualified to understand project documentation if sent to them. Even when there is no classification issue, so just some ordinary private company, they do not want IT contractors to send their documentation outside of the company. But of course, with the classified nature of the documents being discussed here, there are worse implications of this behavior. It is not clear at all that merely blanking out portions of classified documents takes care of the issue.
There is also no reason for any recruiter to have access to classified documents. For example, a person with no involvement on a project and without a security clearance cannot just reach out to Pratt & Whitney and ask for blanked out classified documents.
Many of these placement firms place a large number of individuals at a company. These individuals may be working on a number of projects within a company like Pratt Whitney. If the placement firm were to request project documentation from each of them under the guise of “helping their contract staff” they could create a picture of what is going on, and the IP being developed at the company. And they could build a library, and then sell this information.
This story brings up the topic of whether Indians are gaining access to internal documentation by placing people in companies. The cover story would be that the recruiter is just trying to “help” the IT contractor, but I have never met a recruiter who could ever help me on a project by providing analysis of documents.
This brings up the question of what is going on and why these documents are being requested. This is related to another article we wrote called The Frightening Rise of the Indian Recruiters in IT.
Along with China actively backward engineering US products sent to China for manufacture, Chinese students and researchers actively sending back US developed IP, and now Indians extracting IP from companies and in what now appears to be classified information — the US companies and US Government have a serious blind spot and a serious problem in understanding that the people they are importing from other countries are not playing by the same rules.
The US lost a great deal of its manufacturing to China and other countries like Mexico, (which in the short term enriched US corporations but gravely damaged US workers) and it now appears to be losing critical IP to countries and individuals who do not have any respect for anyone’s ownership of IP (try to sue for IP theft in China or India) and see it as something they can steal with impunity. As in the case of the migration of US manufacturing to China, corporations the US Government are telling us that this is necessary. That the US must be competitive and this means importing large numbers of foreign workers who do not appear to have much respect for US laws, ways of operations (see our article on Contract Clauses to Watch Out for In Indian Professional Service Agreement for how Indians firms tend to structure their subcontract agreements) or for US workers.
If anyone reading this has had similar experiences to those laid out in the quotation above, please reach out or leave a comment on this web page below.