UK moves to amend law to combat foreign espionage

The U.K. proposed a plan to combat foreign malicious activity on May 11, introducing a bill that would give security and law enforcement new powers to respond to the growing threat.

The bill would overhaul laws to meet modern needs, update old official secrets acts and bring those laws up to date with the threats of the cyberwar era, some of which date back hundreds of years.

China and Russia seek to steal trade secrets and intellectual property in addition to intervening in politics, the U.K.’s intelligence chief said. 2018 Russian agents are accused of poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal with a nerve agent in Britain.

Britain will also amend its treason laws to crack down on state-backed espionage, according to a briefing paper with Queen Elizabeth II’s “Queen’s Speech” setting out future priorities for government.

The briefing paper said, “We are also considering whether to criminalize other harmful activities by or on behalf of the state, including amending treason laws.”

A Foreign Influence Registration Scheme will also be enacted to help combat espionage, foreign interference and to provide better protection for scientific research.