3. NSA’s economic implications for the US economy. Lesson twenty

Edward Snowden’s disclosure about how US intelligence (NSA) spies on millions of people’s telecommunications and data communications has led to problems for US technology companies. The simplest explanation is that customers are reacting to the surveillance from the NSA, which collects what we call Metadata, i.e. ingelligence about what contacts people have on the Internet, or on the phone.

In Europe, the NSA’s espionage is much more up close and personal. Snowden’s data has shown that large US technology companies, such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, have more or less been forced, with reference to the law, to let the NSA into their systems in the intelligence agency’s search for terrorists.

Since it is now known that millions of people who are not suspected of anything also are monitored by the NSA, some of them have reacted with anger towards technology companies. When they cannot guarantee privacy, the customers turn to someone else, or build their own systems which they think are safer. The New York Times has spoken to an expert who believes that the business losses of major technology companies can reach $ 35 billion in a few years. Other analysts guess $ 180 billion in potential loss.

Technology companies want to know what the president and the congress will do to regulate and limit the monitoring of their customers. One of Microsoft’s managers told the New York Times that business customers in particular want to know, more than ever, how their information is stored, used and secured. Right now, technology companies cannot provide any answers to that. They are waiting for the politicians to speak up and they are frustrated about not having received it already. They don’t know how to get answers, it’s like sucking blood from a stone.

In March 21, 2014, President Obama met a number of technology company representatives in a two-hour meeting. They have had several meetings before that in which they talked about monitoring and integrity.

The technology companies are also concerned that the responsibility for storing that big amounts of data would be transferred to them, from the NSA. The technology companies do not want that, but it was an idea that Obama favored. He referred the questions to the Congress.

In the meantime, new disclosures are coming up almost every week about the NSA’s surveillance. Bush’s and Obama’s motives for NSA’s deep wire tapping goes like this;

if the NSA had the right to overlook foreign individuals and organizations, we would have been able to prevent nineeleven.

And they claim that they have been able to prevent terrorist attacks after nineeleven thanks to the survaillance program. The claim is probably not as true as that nineeleven could not be prevented due to territorial pissing. They didn’t manage to prevent the Boston bombers or the gay nightclub shooter in Orlando Florida, Omar Mateen, from committing their deeds even though their deeds came after nineeleven.

If there had been no waterproof bulkheads between the CIA, the FBI, the DIA and the NSA and if the organizational culture had not been so sluggish in government agencies such as the CIA and the FBI, then nineeleven perhaps could have been prevented. In the summer of 2001, the CIA in vain repeatedly warned President George W. Bush and other White House officials that an al-Qaeda attack was imminent. A few special agents at the CIA’s Alec station tried to warn the FBI headquarters that the malicious terrorist al-Mihdhar was in the US, but a CIA manager ordered the agents to be silent. One of the agents stated, “It was a classic example of when analysts owns information,” he said. “Operators share information. Some analysts tended to think of information as; never you mind.” Source; SR; Ekot, March 2014

Homework:

What solutions do you think are available to us Europeans regarding how to force the current American president to a sufficient level speak up to our satisfaction about storing of data and the surveillance programs. Please let me know if you have any ideas!

Roger M. Klang, defense political spokesman for the Christian Values Party (Kristna Värdepartiet) in Sweden

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