The continued effects of the PRISM exposure are being felt by U.S. technology companies. In the wake of the exposure that the United States has been performing one of the largest surveillance and data-capturing enterprises in human history, many online companies are feeling the pinch.
Earlier this month, former President Jimmy Carter commented that the United States no longer has a “functioning democracy” and that the effect of this is extremely dangerous for American technology companies. More broadly, the effects of spying on American technology companies and the expectation of privacy many Americans have come to enjoy give ammunition to foreign nations in their claims that Internet privacy is not something a people can afford.
In his earlier remarks, Carter praised American technology companies for being a triumph of American creativity and ingenuity. Carter cited the Arab Spring but also noted that the scandal surrounding NSA spying can damage these companies causing “…platforms such as Google or Facebook [to] lose credibility worldwide.”
Now, the growing concern is that online companies based in the United States, and subject to U.S. laws, would also be subject to the NSA and other government spying programs. The spying of American citizens is one thing but foreign citizens enjoy even less protection when it comes to their privacy. According to a report from Ars Technica, over 50% of the foreign respondents surveyed are less likely to use U.S. cloud companies in the wake of the PRISM scandal.
Continuing to spy on American citizens without their knowledge and invading their online privacy, ignoring what it may say about America’s position as a leader of freedom and liberty, is bad business. Eroding confidence in American tech companies in a recovering economy is not a behavior to be encouraged.
However, the attack on whistleblowers that has been taking place does not seem to be stopping or even slowing. Techdirt is reporting that Change.gov has had all content from Obama’s 2008 campaign that spoke of protecting whistleblowers removed from the site.
Joshua is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @Joshual33.