Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Collateral Damage

There's another problem with a government agency conducting surveillance when it won't reveal either the targets of its surveillance, the procedures used, nor the methods, as Democracy Now notes:
Key tech giants implicated in the recent NSA surveillance revelations have asked the U.S. government for permission to prove they haven’t enabled wholesale spying. On Tuesday, Google, Facebook and Microsoft said they want to release info on how they respond to classified surveillance requests in response to the fallout over the surveillance program PRISM. According to leaked documents, the National Security Agency uses PRISM to gather data on foreign Internet users directly from the servers of nine major firms. It’s unlikely the government will grant the request. A former Justice Department prosecutor, Larry Klayman, says he plans to file a class action lawsuit today against all nine companies named in the leaked documents as PRISM participants.

Tech Giants Seek Gov’t Permission to Disclose FISA Orders

Those Internet companies, to say the least, have an image problem right now. Given the secrecy surrounding what they have or haven't done, and the amazingly similar way they all disavowed having done, well, something, it should be no surprise that people have assumed the worst.

It's not just Americans making those assumptions, either:

The European Union's chief justice official has written to the U.S. attorney general demanding an explanation for the collection of foreign nationals' data following disclosures about the "PRISM" spy program.

In a letter seen by Reuters, the European commissioner for justice and fundamental rights, Viviane Reding, said she had serious concerns about the possibility that U.S. authorities had accessed European citizens' data on a vast scale.


Companies considering adopting cloud technology still cite security as their biggest concern and European officials say they are aware that Europe's cloud market hinges on privacy.

"The storage of the data in the foreign servers and related legal uncertainty constitutes a real impediment," a second Commission official said.

EU justice chief seeks answers on U.S. data spying

[italic emphasis added]

Which means that US-based Internet companies may end up as collateral damage in this foolish invasion of privacy.

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