Last week, news broke that the NSA has been spying on Verizon customer in the United States. The bulletin came via the Guardian, which had obtained a copy of a secret court order allowing the NSA to spy on millions of Verizon customers. As reported by Glenn Greenwald: "The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of U.S. citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk -- regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing."
This development has multiple implications for U.S. citizens, but high-tech industries will feel a distinctive hit. It seems that we only recently addressed fears over the Patriot Act and the notion that the U.S. government could seize the servers containing your data from your cloud provider. It was certainly possible, but not likely.
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Now, we have a documented instance where the government has been peeking at personal communication records with the objective of spotting the bad guys. A few million Verizon customers must be feeling a bit confused if not downright violated at this point.
As we migrate to public clouds, the most vocal protestors against this shift also happen to believe the data is at more risk for government monitoring. While you can show them mechanisms and statistics that demonstrate the value of leveraging public clouds, the "NSA scandal" will provide more fuel for the already cloud-paranoid.
The rise of cloud computing in the European Union will see the greatest impact on this scandal. The group is already suspicious of the U.S. government's power to either monitor or outright seize their data. While there may not be any direct logical connection behind the perceived risk, the truth is people often make decisions, such as moving to the public cloud, based on feelings as much as facts.
Personally, I don't see much of a connection between the NSA and cloud computing, but those on the fence regarding cloud computing will cite this as another reason to kick the can further down the road. Thanks for nothing, NSA.
This article, "Thanks, NSA, you're killing the cloud," 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.