Sex, spies, and the cloud: NSA revelations continue to weaken confidence

Washington Post investigation asserts that the NSA collects data mostly from ordinary citizens, not potential terrorists

According to a four-month investigation by the Washington Post based on information provided by Edward Snowden, ordinary Internet users far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks.

Indeed, 9 of 10 account holders found in a large store of intercepted electronic conversations, which Snowden provided in full to the Post, were not the intended surveillance targets. Instead, they were gathered as part of the NSA's monitoring of other people of interest.

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According to the Post:

Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties, and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.

As the cloud grows, these sorts of revelations keep coming, and they certainly hinder growth. However, it does not surprise me that the NSA holds so much data unrelated to its targets. It seems obvious that some of it is sensitive and was never meant to be seen beyond the two original participants in the communications. It's creepy at best, illegal at worst.

Those in IT -- or not -- are freaking out about the cloud. The new movie "Sex Tape" shows what happens when data -- in this case, a personal sex tape a couple made -- is accidentally released. Check out the best lines from the trailers (paraphrased): "It's in the cloud." "Nobody understands the cloud."

Although we knew the data coming from Snowden would hurt the cloud computing market, this story does not seem to be dying. Much like layers of an onion, it's the gift that keeps on giving for the press. At the same time, those in IT, and even the general public, are still trying to figure out the risks of the government's surveillance efforts.

I can tell you this: These revelations don't instill confidence in the cloud.

This article, "Sex, spies, and the cloud: NSA revelations continue to weaken confidence," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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