Has NSA Spying Killed US “Cloud” services, Email in Europe, Brazil?

Andrew Miller points out that European companies afraid of US industrial espionage just got far less likely to use American internet companies for communications and cloud data storage.

American companies can be compelled by ‘National Security Letters’ from government agencies to turn over the data of non-US citizens, at will and without a warrant.

Neelie Kroes, the European Commission vice president of Digital Affairs Neelie Kroes, observed, according to Miller, “If businesses or governments think they might be spied on, they will have less reason to trust cloud, and it will be cloud providers who ultimately miss out . . . Why would you pay someone else to hold your commercial or other secrets if you suspect or know they are being shared against your wishes?”

Netherlands-based search engine Ixquick already advertises, “No PRISM. No Surveillance. No Government Back Doors. You Have our Word on it,” taking advantage of news that Google and other US internet firms have been forced to meet thousands of requests a year by American government agencies for private data of users.

Presumably the same considerations might hurt US internet firms in Brazil, the world’s 6th-largest country and also a prime target for US electronic espionage. Brazilians are second only to the US in the number of people who use Facebook and YouTube, both American firms subject to the National Security Letters. In addition, an American telecom firm has been partnering with Brazilian companies, then providing the US government a back door into Brazilian customers’ data.

The revelations of US/British spying via sniffers on transatlantic fiber optics cables (Tempora) on email and telephone calls of Germany and other European countries has also given the Europeans the upper hand in negotiations with the US over privacy standards in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement (TTIP).

German telecom companies are not allowed to store connection data, and can only keep billing data for six months. Leaker Edward Snowden revealed that the connection data (who people call, for how long, and where they were when they did it) for Verizon business accounts were being demanded by the NSA for all of the US every 3 months.

Hmm. If the NSA PRISM and TEMPORA programs really do cost US firms billions of dollars, there is some hope they’ll buy some congressmen to roll them back. The lord knows that if they do get their wings clipped, it won’t be just because they contravene the Fourth Amendment rights of US residents.

20 Responses

  1. Dear Professor Cole

    It gets worse for the US.

    Many of the modern IT security programs designed to overcome Advanced persistent threats and Polymorphic malware are funded by US Venture capitalsists.

    Such programs if you buy them have access to everythin in your network.

    If they have a backdoor built in for the NSA then all our IPR and negotiating positions leak to the US.

    I think I see an emerging European Security Applications market.

    • The “CLOUD” services are in the clouds and I hope they will blown away by the wind!
      I fully agree with your comment as a reply to Prof. Cole.
      It is time to start getting rid of Facebook, the american email companies, youtube, etc. Let us see what european or other country companies come out with.
      I am thinking of the new Mozila OS: Built by many for purpose to serve many!

  2. I greatly appreciate your commentary.

    What the American government does on all of us is really crazy: Looking for “terrorists” among the rest of the world!
    Why is the US so much afraid of the rest of the world? – The US government must change its policies before it is too late!
    They cannot fight alone against the rest of the world and win.
    If they feel so threatened by the rest of the world means something has gone horribly wrong in the way they treat us all. Better they should go to the moon! – Even that they cannot without relaying on Russian “Rockets”. Shame!

  3. To the extent possible, we need to get away from the model of handing someone our data and trusting them to keep it safe. Trusting any company to keep your secrets for you means trusting that they will refuse demands from their government, who almost certaily has vast power over the company and its employees. It also means trusting that the company will not get hacked. Whereever possible, it’s a lot better to just encrypt the data before the cloud company sees it. (That doesn’t work for search, but it works very well for dropbox/skydrive like functionality.).

  4. I think there is an important point missing in the hoo ha over Snowdons revelations.

    I am concerned there are other hidden leaks we will never know about being sold on to corporations who would find this data very useful.
    What worries me most is the link up between large co.’s and our governments. Lobbyists form large co’s already influence our legislators and cause our governments to make decisions not in the interest of the majority of the people.
    In an organisation the size of NSA (tens of thousands of employees) I find it impossible to believe that Snowdon is the only leak – its time to ask “who else is seeing this data and how are they using it”

    When I was in my teens I had a friend from school who was an extremely successful thief. His biggest gripe was that other thieves would steal his stolen goods and he had no police or courts to bring these thieves to justice.

    Who else and where else is our private data being used?

    • “What worries me most is the link up between large co.’s and our governments. Lobbyists form large co’s already influence our legislators and cause our governments to make decisions not in the interest of the majority of the people”

      Are you for real? The smartest gov people own Corps, with small exceptions. Why do you think that the corporations hire them after they end their mandate, because they served their country? They hire themselves.

  5. That Europeans will assert their independence is a nice sentiment but, as the hijacking of President Morales’ official plane showed, the big players will follow the money. It’s a good bet that if they had been ordered to by Washington, all other NATO nations would have joined Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal in this violation of international law. Britain is not the only American poodle in Western Europe.

    As Paul Craig Roberts said, “Lawlessness is the new normal.” – link to paulcraigroberts.org

    • Anyone who believes that the French and German governments are engaged in similar activities should provide some evidence that it’s true.

      I don’t doubt that many countries use similar technologies and techniques to conduct surveillance, but I doubt that any, except maybe the UK, come anywhere close to the scope and reach of the US.

      Presidential Policy Directive 20 lays out a pretty breathtaking set of cyber defensive and offensive objectives. I doubt that Germany, France, and Brazil have similar world encompassing plans.
      link to guardian.co.uk

      • Anyone who believes that the French and German governments are engaged in similar activities should provide some evidence that it’s true.

        Were you making similar demands of people who asserted six months ago that the US was engaged in date mining?

        I doubt that any, except maybe the UK, come anywhere close to the scope and reach of the US.




        • He also fail to acknowledge that other countries do not have such a huge base of finances to invest in this activity, at this scale. Even the US cannot store every bit of information that is flowing on the Internet because there are physical limits on how much data their servers can store, and the server of any company for the matter, even if putting away specific patterns -like torrent data. This is why they store only connections, not content. Not because “ethics”.

  6. I have an idea: Give American citizenship to everybody in the world. They are all affected by American policies anyway. I always said that America was a democracy at home but a dictatorship throughout the rest of the world. Give everybody in the world voting rights on the candidates and issues that will inexorably affect their lives. Some people say that ‘they all do it (spying)’ but the truth is that most nations have a smaller GDP than the annual budgets for the NSA-CIA.

  7. “Anyone who believes the French and German governments aren’t engaged in similar activities is a sucker.”

    Are they sucking up US digital signals or just their own? As the article points out German telcoms have to dispose of metadata within 6 months.

    I can’t even prove that I attended first grade in Berlin way, way back. The student records have been destroyed per law. Some societies try to remember the past and learn from it.

  8. While it is yet to be seen exactly how the details play out, the Trumpet has long predicted (based on Isaiah 23) that a German-led European Empire will make a brief trade alliance with the nations of East Asia and Latin America. The purpose of this alliance will be to economically besiege the United States, isolating it from world trade. For a more detailed explanation of this coming siege, read Chapter Seven of editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s booklet Isaiah’s End-Time Vision.

    Are pre-millennial dispensationalist propaganda mills now grist for polite company?

    • Yes, I wondered this too. While the linked article seems to be factual at first glance, the trumpet.com is a most bizarre “news” site.

  9. The last paragraph of your piece, in which you facetiously hope that the firms will buy some congresspeople to help roll back the spying, seems the most signal to me. The fact is that the firms already own their stables of congresspeople, and it is not inconceivable that the democracy has already been lost. Now is the period when our understanding catches up with what once was humorous. Back then there was an assumption that it might be corrected. But lately, maybe not so much.

  10. The US shot itself in the foot again with these programs. It’s not as if their reputation worldwide is already marred with mud. The entire program itself and the leaders aware of it should be charged with treason. This is betrayal of public trust to the utmost level. Someone should be held accountable. What happened to due process?

  11. Switching from US companies is a good start but we all need to start protecting ourselves. We don’t write personal letters on postcards,and we need to enclose email in the same way – by encryption. All cloud data needs to be encrypted as well and IP addresses need to be hidden using a VPN. The free email accounts have a privacy cost and Facebook and other social media need to be dropped.

    Too hard? In a few years,we will wonder why we were so naive. Governments will not stop spying – indeed it gets cheaper and more effective for them every year.

  12. Might seem like a petty diversion, but I think we should consider that it is the FBI, not NSA, that instigated the collection of all this domestic surveillance data. My guess is that when the FISA court plays fast and loose with the fourth amendment, it is because the FBI, Homeland Security, and CIA asked it to. NSA is just the FBI’s “peek and parse geek”.

    Quote from FISA Verizon order:
    “This Court having found that the Application of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for an Order requiring the production of tangible things from Verizon Business Network Services, Inc. on behalf of MCI Communication Services
    Inc., d/b/a Verizon Business Services (individually and collectively “Verizon”)satisfies the requirements of 50 U.S.C. ? 1861,IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, the Custodian of Records shall produce to the National Security Agency (NSA) upon service of this Order, and continue production.”

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