U.S. government knew that revelations about NSA’s PRISM program would hurt American Technology companies, but they didn’t “really really care”, Bart Gellman

via chycho

When details of NSA’s PRISM surveillance program were revealed, American technology companies shuttered in fear, not because they were concerned about criminal prosecution – both the Bush administration and the Obama administration had authorized the program – they shuttered in fear because they knew the revelations would negatively impact their business.

In the following interview on Democracy Now!, when Juan Gonzalez asks Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian, the British newspaper that first reported on the Snowden affair (2), what his thoughts are on the impact of the revelations of the surveillance program on the world stage, Rusbridger replies (segments of interest occur at approximately 38:00 and 47:00 – emphasis added):

ALAN RUSBRIDGER [38:00]: Well, I think, the bit that is sometimes missing from the American debate, the President places great emphasis on the fact that America doesn’t spy on Americans in American territory, as if that was the only thing that mattered. And I thought it was very interesting that Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook said, the other day, well that is no use to us if we are trying to build an international business. So, I think Americans haven’t quite understood the anger of other states, of people living in Germany, you say, that Americans feel free to spy on anybody else in the world, and you just have to, sort of, reverse that and think how would Americans feel if Germans were spying on them, or the Chinese.…

JUAN GONZÁLEZ [46:00]: …your sense of how these kinds of revelations are, not only effecting world perceptions of the United States, but as you alluded to earlier, the ability of American companies, internet giants and computer giants to do business overseas – and more and more people are saying, why should I deal with Yahoo or why should I deal with Google if the American government is going to be able to spy on me.

ALAN RUSBRIDGER: …I think it gets to be a big big story for American innovation and business if the rest of the world comes to associate these companies with forms of surveillance, that is going to damage American companies, and I think the Silicon Valley companies know this, and they are worried.

Spilling the NSA’s Secrets: Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger on the Inside Story of Snowden Leaks

So was the world’s reaction to these revelations surprising? Didn’t the U.S. government and the companies that enabled the spy agency to initiate and optimize this program realize that there would be a backlash?

…continued at chycho

15 Comments on "U.S. government knew that revelations about NSA’s PRISM program would hurt American Technology companies, but they didn’t “really really care”, Bart Gellman"

  1. BuzzCoastin | Sep 24, 2013 at 5:55 pm |

    it’s simply naive not to think that
    all governments spy on their citizens and everyone else
    & naive not to know that
    big communication companies are always insiders
    who owe their continuance to the gruberment
    and have been sharing “information” with TPTB
    since words began

  2. While it would be reasonable to expect foreign companies and governments who don’t want the NSA (and business competitors with political connections) as silent partners, to dump M$ / Apple / Google desktop, server, mobile OSs and cloud services which would put those companies and their billionaire techno-capitalist investors in a world of hurt, I see no indication that this has or will happen. Also note that many of those techno-capitalists financed and created the tech infrastructure behind the Obama for President campaigns.

    If the wealthy the NSA ultimately serve feel the pain created by NSA’s actions personally in their own bank accounts, what happens next?

    But it’s a big if. The governments who have angry citizens also have their own mass surveillance programs connected with the NSA. Also, the only way to shift off US proprietary vendors would be to go Open Source and add to the number of eyes watching the code for infiltration.

    For a knowledgeable computer user with a single or few computers, shifting to Linux is merely inconvenient. Even if one has to have a few Windows-only apps, one can run XP in Virtualbox for the few minutes a day one actually needs them, Enterprises and governments full of typical (“where’s the ON button”) users face a much higher level of pain for the switchover.

    Assume that the “foreign government outrage” is posturing unless and until they start doing things that will cost US tech giants serious money.

    • I can honestly tell you that as soon as there is any viable video editing software available for Linux, I’m switching. I’m willing to put aside 2 to 3 months to learn the system just so I can be free from the giants.

      • http://libregraphicsworld.org/blog/entry/first-look-at-lightworks-beta-for-linux

        can’t comment on it from experience, found out after attempting to install it that it requires 64 bit Linux and I haven’t upgraded to that yet.

        • Cool, thanks for the link. I haven’t tried this one before, I’ll ask around and do some digging to see if it’ll do the job – looks like the final version is still in the works though (as of May 2013).

          • Recommend you use the Kubuntu Linux distro http://www.kubuntu.org – it’s a conventional desktop UI, not the “improved” kind that’s supposed to look and work the same on a 5″ smartphone and a 35″ monitor. You will also find that some things work better on Linux – majority of apps will automatically update at the same time the system does.

          • I was actually looking at these guys, Ubuntu, https://www.system76.com/home/

            From what I’ve been recommended and researched, Ubuntu seems to be the system to go with. Is Kubuntu the same thing just with minor differences?

            Apologies if I sound like a newb, but I am. That being said, I still have a desktop that we partitioned into dos/win and linix from 1992 or so (hasn’t been turned on for over 15 years). Think I’ll take it to the grave with me.

          • Right. Kubuntu is Ubuntu with a KDE window manager (window manager is the basic UI) One of the good things about Linux is that there are generally several ways to do any specific function. So if a UI is butt-ugly or unusuable, simply swap it out.

            Ubuntu adopted the Unity window manager – which was designed to look the same on smartphone / tablet / desktops. Convenient for developers and nobody else.

            Unfortunately for this concept (Windows Metro gets it wrong the same way) the needs for a desktop productivity user creating content and the needs of a tablet or smartphone user multimedia consumer are totally different.

            Under the hood, Kubuntu is Ubuntu. So when I use it, I get a usable desktop with the ease of operation / maintenance / driver availability of Ubuntu,

            If you’re buying a system with Ubuntu preinstalled, all you have to do is install kubuntu-desktop and if need be, dig through the System Settings UI from main KDE menu and make sure it’s set to desktop, NOT netbook. If you have problems finding it, contact me.

          • You may have noticed in the article references to kdenlive – a lightweight video editor that can be installed easily from Ubuntu repositories. Advantages of installing that way are automatic updates and software dependencies are automatically managed. I just installed it. Can’t comment on whether it would fit your needs or not, grabbed it for possible future project.

          • It sounds like I just have to bite the bullet and buy a training/learning ubuntu laptop and work my way through it.

            A friend that’s a heavy linux users has said that the system I’m looking for is almost there, probably within the year, so I may be looking at my conversion year taking place in 2014. I can honestly tell you that it will be a proud day in my life when I can walk around and say that I’m exclusively a linux users.

  3. Adam's Shadow | Sep 25, 2013 at 12:46 am |

    This has my vote as the most unsurprising piece of news this year.

    Also, to switch into Grammar Nazi mode: it’s “shuddered,” not “shuttered.”


    • Yup, not surprising but good to have confirmation.

      As for the typo, Argh! Thanks for the correction, wish I could edit the post after it’s live. Oh well, will never make that mistake again 🙂

      • Adam's Shadow | Sep 25, 2013 at 7:04 pm |

        I teach English, so I am by nature and by profession obsessively compulsive about that sort of thing.

        • I’m on the other side of the spectrum, I teach math so I’m loose with my words but a little obsessed with my numbers 🙂

  4. jasonpaulhayes | Sep 25, 2013 at 10:01 am |

    Let’s not forget the NSA was masquerading as Google and Facebook was developed by DARPA and In-Q-tel.

    Of course they do this all the time and it’s more than they “didn’t “really, really care” it’s quite the opposite. They have the utmost interest in data-mining and surveillance and although the average person isn’t really that concerned with their privacy beyond the fact many of us tred the lines of free speech… I hesitate to discuss that aspect of surveillance. Most citizens are concerned with the lack of transparency from above because although it may be true that; “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear”, it’s also true that “If we have nothing to fear, they have nothing to hide”

    I think its a safe bet they simply don’t want a well informed public, disobedient workers and people taking to the streets in protest. This is more of a CYA (Cover Your Ass) move than a legitimate source of Intel… because it’s not about having a legitimate source of Intel when it’s in the hands of mafioso, imperialist traitors.

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