“F*** these guys. I’ve spent the last ten years of my life trying to keep Google’s users safe and secure from the many diverse threats Google faces. I’ve seen armies of machines DOS-ing Google. I’ve seen worms DOS’ing Google to find vulnerabilities in other people’s software. I’ve seen criminal gangs figure out malware. I’ve seen spyware masquerading as toolbars so thick it breaks computers because it interferes with the other spyware. I’ve even seen oppressive governments use state-sponsored hacking to target dissidents … But after spending all that time helping in my tiny way to protect Google—one of the greatest things to arise from the internet—seeing this, well, it’s just a little like coming home from War with Sauron, destroying the One Ring, only to discover the NSA is on the front porch of the Shire chopping down the Party Tree and outsourcing all the hobbit farmers with half-orcs and whips.”
– Google engineer Brandon Downey
It may still kill both. But things are looking slightly better.
As we have said before, the NSA spying scandal, affair, constitutional crisis – whatever, is about more than just the violation of the 4th Amendment and the principals of this country. It is also about jobs.
The NSA has undermined the US tech industry. Potential customers are backing out of contracts with US tech firms for fear that anything they buy from Silicon Valley is full of custom created backdoors for the spy agency. US Firms are losing orders and profitability and their credibility and eventually if nothing is done, their leadership position in the world.
Who made the deal with the NSA willingly and with little fuss, and who fought the NSA is unclear at this moment. But it looks like all the big IT firms were involved in sharing information with the government. The attached article from Wired sheds some light on what has been going on.
Not just revenue was at stake. So were ideals that have sustained the tech world since the Internet exploded from a Department of Defense project into an interconnected global web that spurred promises of a new era of comity. The Snowden leaks called into question the Internet’s role as a symbol of free speech and empowerment. If the net were seen as a means of widespread surveillance, the resulting paranoia might affect the way people used it. Nations outraged at US intelligence-gathering practices used the disclosures to justify a push to require data generated in their countries to remain there, where it could not easily be hoovered by American spies. Implementing such a scheme could balkanize the web, destroying its open essence and dramatically raising the cost of doing business.