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A man holds a placard with a portrait of Edward Snowden during a "Freedom instead of Fear" protest calling for the protection of digital data privacy and the reigning in of digital surveillance practices, in Berlin on August 30, 2014. Photo: Reuters

US intelligence agencies could spy on behalf of corporations: Edward Snowden leak

The US intelligence services may one day spy for American companies if their foreign competitors' technological capacity 'outstrips that of US corporations'.

Andrea Chen

The US intelligence services may one day spy for American companies if their foreign competitors' technological capacity "outstrips that of US corporations", according to the latest report attributed to leaks by former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.

Titled "Quadrennial Intelligence Community Review Final Report" and published by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) in April 2009, the report recommends that the US intelligence services should put "a multi-pronged, systematic effort to gather open source and proprietary information through overt means, clandestine penetration (through physical and cyber means), and counterintelligence".

The report came to light in an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept website on Friday. Greenwald is a former columnist at who broke the stories on the US government's far-reaching electronic spying schemes based on Snowden's leaks.

The 2009 review is a scenario-based analysis conducted by the Intelligence Community (IC) to provide an "essential long-term guide" to the US government about what it may face by 2025.

IC's official website described the community as a coalition of 17 government agencies and organisations that conduct foreign relations and national security activities. It publishes the report every four years.

"[The review] is not intended to be, and is not, a reflection of current policy or operations," Greenwald cited DNI spokesman Jeffrey Anchukaitis as saying in response to his article, adding that "the Intelligence Community regularly engages in analytic exercises to identify potential future global environments, and how the IC could help the United States government respond".

The US has acknowledged it collects information "about economic and financial matters" from foreign companies, after the NSA was caught spying on Brazilian energy firm Petrobras. But it has repeatedly rejected charges that it did so to benefit its own corporations, as it has accused China of doing.

In May, the US charged five Chinese military officers who were accused of hacking into American nuclear, metal and solar companies to obtain trade and technology secrets.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: US may spy to help corporations, says report