Editor’s Note: In an
October 30, 2013 op-ed in Foreign Policy
, Shane Harris, Noah Shactman, and John Hudson report that technology industry executives are furious over revelations that the National Security Agency compromised the data centers of Google and Yahoo. The news could cost U.S. technology firms as much as $35 billion dollars over the next three years in lost foreign business, not to mention customer trust.
Former intelligence officials and technology industry executives reacted with anger and anxiety over the latest revelations that the National Security Agency is reportedly infiltrating some of the world’s biggest technology companies and making off with the private communications of millions of their customers. And if the reports are accurate, it could be very bad news for U.S. technology companies, who have been complaining for months that their government’s secretive intelligence operations are threatening their business and driving customers towards their foreign competitors.
I think they’re in an almost impossible situation,” Rep. Adam Schiff, a senior member of the Intelligence Committee, told The Cable. Speaking of Silicon Valley firms who are obligated to cooperate with the NSA, Schiff said recent leak revelations threatened to negatively impact their bottom lines. “It’s definitely going to hurt their business and I think we ought to do everything we can to mitigate that damage. I’m very sympathetic to what they have to confront.”
The Washington Post reported today that the agency “has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world.” According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the agency is intercepting emails, documents, and other electronic communications as they move between the companies’ privately controlled facilities and the public Internet, giving the NSA access to data in nearly real-time.
We know from some of the records we’ve seen over the years from groups like al-Qaeda that they see the United States as a harder place to get into than they do Europe.