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One year after The Washington Post and The Guardian first disclosed the National Security Agency’s electronic data mining program, many of the intelligence revelations – and more importantly their domestic and international implications – have yet to be clearly explained to American citizens and others globally whose private data was accessed by the U.S. government.

The source of the leaks, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, claimed that he was acting in the public’s best interest to reveal alleged violations by the U.S. officials and the intelligence community. But the revelations have created ripple effects that are far more significant and enduring than his intended debate over intelligence gathering methods.

Addressing five of the most important ripple effects should help answer those questions, better explain the nature of the intelligence community’s actions and shed light on how the Internet develops from here:

National Security

How should the U.S. balance security and transparency? Are the risks of intelligence disclosures overblown?
 
 
Trust in the U.S. Government

Can the U.S. government rebuild confidence that it is respecting civil liberties? How can it secure existing freedoms without compromising other national interests?
U.S. Soft Power & Diplomacy

Can the U.S. win back trust and allegiances abroad? How will breaches of trust affect future relations?
 
 
Trade & Business

Has the U.S. undermined American technology companies’ global market domination? Will future international trade agreements be put in jeopardy?
 
Cybersecurity & Internet Governance

Will it be easier for other nations to build Internet barriers, stifling the free exchange of ideas? Has the U.S. lost its Internet moral authority?
 

For more research and commentary from Brookings experts on the National Security Agency debate one year after the Snowden revelations, and on cybersecurity issues writ large, visit our Cybersecurity topic page »