The NSA scandal has damaged U.S. credibility online
NSA surveillance allegations have led to countries questioning the country's commitment to Internet freedom, a former Obama official says
IDG News Service - The U.S. government has a huge image problem worldwide as it promotes Internet freedom on one hand and conducts mass surveillance on the other, potentially creating major problems for U.S. technology companies, a former official with President Barack Obama's administration said Thursday.
Many U.S. policy makers don't recognize the level of distrust created by recent revelations about U.S. National Security Agency surveillance, and that lack of trust will drive other countries away from U.S. technology firms, said Andrew McLaughlin, former White House deputy CTO.
"We, as an advocate for freedom of speech and privacy worldwide, are much, much, much more screwed than we generally think in Washington, and ... American industry and our Internet sector is more much, much, much more screwed than we think internationally," McLaughlin said during a speech at a Human Rights First summit in Washington, D.C.
Many overseas critics of the U.S. see the Obama administration's push for Internet freedom as "profoundly hypocritical" in the face of the NSA surveillance revelations and a continued push by U.S. trade officials to have U.S. trading partners filter the Internet to protect against copyright violations, said McLaughlin, now president of Digg, the online news aggregation service.
The NSA surveillance has led to an intense "level of anger and the degree of betrayal" in many countries that U.S. policy makers don't seem to fully appreciate, he said. And many countries have begun to explore other options beyond U.S. technology companies because of the surveillance revelations, he added.
There's now a perception outside the U.S. that the country's technology companies "are willing instruments of violation of civil rights and civil liberties," McLaughlin said. "We have essentially nationalized what were previously seen as stateless Internet entities."
Many countries will move to use domestic technology companies and require citizen data to stay within their borders, he said. "If you're an American company that sells cloud services, I think you've probably sold your last contract to a foreign government," he said.
But Phil Verveer, former U.S. coordinator for information policy at the U.S. Department of State, disagreed that the U.S. government is being hypocritical when promoting Internet freedom and conducting surveillance. While there's some overlap of the issues, the existence of surveillance does not cut off the freedom of speech on the Internet, said Verveer, now a senior advisor at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
"One can recognize ... there is a very large difference between censorship and spying," Verveer said. "On some level, we know that spying and espionage is going to take place. This still doesn't mean we are recommending censorship."
- Silicon Valley's 19 Coolest Places to Work
- Is Windows 8 Development Worth the Trouble?
- 8 Books Every IT Leader Should Read This Year
- 10 Hot Hadoop Startups to Watch
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Data on the Move = Business on the Move; How Strategic Secure Managed File Transfer Adds Value and Drives Business This whitepaper describes the formal and informal file-sharing methods business employees use to perform their daily functions and explains that, from sending small...
- Logicalis eBook: SAP HANA: The Need for Speed Without timely business insights, organizations today can suffer logistical, manufacturing, and even financial disaster in a matter of minutes
- Neustar 2014 DDoS Attacks and Impact Report For the third consecutive year, Neustar surveyed hundreds of companies on distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. The survey reveals evidence that the...
- Acxiom Case Study This case study, which focuses on Acxiom, explores how the company was able to secure employee data, reduce migration costs and boost productivity...
- Supercharge Your Web and Mobile App Development with High-Productivity Hybrid Cloud Webinar: Hear from industry experts about the amazing power at the intersection of next-generation web and mobile application development and cloud platforms.
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to... All Internet White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!