It is not just personal information that is being swept into the National Security Agency's (NSA) massive databases. It is corporate data as well. And that could cause some serious international blowback for the U.S., both politically and economically.
According to a number of security experts, the U.S. surveillance state --exposed more officially than ever before by former NSA consultant Edward Snowden -- will likely undercut the U.S.'s role and influence in Internet governance.
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Ron Deibert, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, wrote last week on the CNN website that, "there are unintended consequences of the NSA scandal that will undermine U.S. foreign policy interests -- in particular, the 'Internet Freedom' agenda espoused by the U.S. State Department and its allies.
"The revelations that have emerged will undoubtedly trigger a reaction abroad as policymakers and ordinary users realize the huge disadvantages of their dependence on U.S.-controlled networks in social media, cloud computing, and telecommunications, and of the formidable resources that are deployed by U.S. national security agencies to mine and monitor those networks," Deibert wrote.
Bruce Schneier, CTO at BT and author/security guru, agreed. He linked to Deibert's article on his own blog, adding, "Now, when countries like Russia and Iran say the U.S. is simply too untrustworthy to manage the Internet, no one will be able to argue."
"We can't fight for Internet freedom around the world, then turn around and destroy it back home."
The revelations also pose an economic problem for U.S. cloud providers on the international market. Richard Stiennon, chief research analyst at IT-Harvest, wrote in Forbes that this kind of, "vast foreign and domestic spying & threatens the global competitiveness of U.S. tech companies."
Stiennon wrote that since 2006, when making presentations outside the U.S., he has always been asked if the U.S. is reading foreigners' email.
"Answers that allude to 'protections from abuse' and 'oversight' now seem specious," he wrote. "From this week forward a universal suspicion has transformed into acknowledged fact. Yes, U.S. government agencies are reading email, tracking phone calls, and monitoring all communications."