It looks like this whole NSA debacle is going to have adverse effects on the US economy as well. Thanks, Obama!
The spread of knowledge about the NSA’s surveillance programs has shaken the trust of customers in U.S. Internet companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple: especially non-U.S. customers who have discovered how weak the legal protections over their data is under U.S. law. It should come as no surprise, then, that the European Court of Justice (CJEU) has decided that United States companies can no longer be automatically trusted with the personal data of Europeans.
The establishment of the U.S. Postal Service was one of the most visionary civil liberties ideas of its time. It was deeply rooted in George Washington’s belief that a strong state and society can only exist if every citizen has access to uncensored information and can freely communicate, away from the government’s prying eyes.
On Wednesday the House of Representatives voted 307-116 to pass the Protecting Cyber Networks Act, a bill designed to allow more fluid sharing of cybersecurity threat data between corporations and government agencies. That new system for sharing information is designed to act as a real-time immune system against hacker attacks, allowing companies to warn one another via government intermediaries about the tools and techniques of advanced hackers. But privacy critics say it also threatens to open up a new backchannel for surveillance of American citizens, in some cases granting the same companies legal immunity to share their users’ private data with government agencies that include the NSA.
If passed, the bills will adversely affect all Americans’ privacy, but they have particularly critical consequences for journalists and whistleblowers, so we wanted to highlight those concerns that the letters did not fully cover.
The measure, which immediately drew criticism from privacy advocates and some members of Congress, allows the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to essentially rubber-stamp government requests for so-called “business records” held by just about any institution, including the phone companies. Interpreted to require the telcos to cough up millions upon millions of calling records about their customers, it requires them to provide the National Security Agency with the phone numbers of both parties in a call, calling card numbers, the length and time of the calls, and the international mobile subscriber identity (ISMI) number for mobile callers. The NSA keeps a running database of that information, saying that it runs queries solely to combat terrorism.