Economic espionage is the unlawful or clandestine targeting or acquisition of sensitive financial, trade, industrial, or economic policy information. Even though many cases remain unknown or unreported, some incidents of espionage reached the headlines of Brazilian news media in the past years. The cases had different natures, some perpetrated by the state and some by groups of individuals or companies. Despite the damage, they give hints on the scale of such actions in the country and potential threats, like the presence of spyware used to collect data from phones. The current geopolitical scenario, with impactful wars and commercial conflicts between world powers, helps stimulate stakeholders to put into practice unlawful methods to collect data.

Compromised Privacy

A series of cases involving invasion of privacy brought the topic of economic espionage under the spotlight in Brazil. On 15 January, Sport Club Corinthians Paulista took to the police spying equipment found in a sweeping carried out at the club, in São Paulo (SP) city. The discovery was made right after the change of the club’s board, which took place at the end of 2023. The new director, Augusto Melo, requested the search for this type of equipment to be done, which is a recommended measure during such transitions. The former president Duilio Monteiro Alves had already registered a police report, as he believed that he was the target of the espionage reported by the new management.

A sweeping like the one carried out in the Corinthians office is a technical procedure completed by trained professionals and specialized devices. In this inspection, the specialists found three presence sensors with cameras hidden inside them; a fourth presence sensor that appears to have been used for the same objective; and a DVR recorder connected to one of the cameras.

The spying devices were installed in the reception on the fifth floor of the administrative building, where the club presidency is located; in a second location in the reception, just above the door that leads to the president’s office; in the president’s own office, above his armchair; in the base’s training center meeting rooms.

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