Expected Changes to NSA

02.05.14
Chris Pentago

Recent reports suggest the US government will be making changes to NSA surveillance programs.

Here’s what to expect: According to the Wall Street Journal reports, the US government is evaluating the surveillance programs undertaken by the NSA with the aim of making some major changes to them.

 

President Obama is considering including the interests of non-Americans in the new privacy laws to reduce the global rage occasioned by revelations that the US government through the NSA was spying on billions of people across the globe. Since all surveillance requests are approved by the reticent Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Obama will have to appoint privacy advocates to represent the privacy interests of people.

To completely understand the negative effects of NSA surveillance activities, US president will meet with the tech community leaders. Meanwhile, the NSA review team convened by the President has made some recommendations.

Some of the notable recommendations made by this panel include ending the practice of sending secretive “national security letters” which the NSA has been undertaking without seeking the permission of the court. The president is still evaluating these recommendations, but he will have the final say whether all or some of the recommendations would be implemented. The changes could have a significant or less impact, depending on Obama’s decision.

The initiates for changes to NSA have been influenced by Edward Snowden who leaked information about the surveillance activities carried out the NSA. According to Snowden, he made the revelations so that the public can debate the issue soberly and openly.

Considering the recent developments in the US government with regards to surveillance, it seems Snowden has achieved his goal. In fact, this debate has made people realize the effects of NSA activities to US businesses. However, some people still do not understand how Snowden’s revelations have affected the digital data storage industry.

Effect on business

With large scale data centers connected to high speed broadband networks, cloud computing comes with huge benefits. But data storage is all about confidentiality and so this can be affected by where your data is.

When traveling, your data is under the laws of where you are and not your home country. Therefore, if you run into any problems, you are subject to that country’s laws. To sort things out, you have to deal with the local authorities.

After the 9/11, the US government enacted a far reaching law which is sending shock waves globally, known as the Patriotic Act. This extended the territorial boundaries of the US to include any digital data held by any US company or subsidiary globally.

Although this was a counter-terrorism measure, it has had implications far beyond the US, especially with the cloud where many providers globally are US based companies. Your data can be accessed by theNSA.

For example, a New Zealand service provider (famous Megaupload) who sought US based cloud services had servers and data seized due to an alleged violation of US copyright laws. This impacted all its customers. Under the Patriot Act, an Australian business may not be able to protect its data if it’s hosted by a US company even if the data is located in Australia.

Under Australian laws, businesses have a responsibility to protect sensitive company, customer and stakeholder data. Protecting data is not only for governments and banks and almost every business has a sensitive data.

In recent years, the US has been leading the technology world. US companies, such as Microsoft, Apple and Google are at the top leading companies in the global tech industry, but these revelations may set them back if not addressed immediately. In fact, if the events in the third and fourth quarters of 2013 are to go by, people will completely loose trust in the US tech companies.

As the revelations keep coming, their stories keep changing and so people don’t trust them. This may not affect or scare away an average Android or Windows user, but there is a big problem when the US tech industry receives criticism from the whole world and wants to be removed from the digital picture. But this may change when President Obama announces his decision on Friday.

Chris is father, husband and all-round computer geek who had privilege to watch technology rising from its bare beginnings and powering life as we know it today. Worked as a software architect and developer for some of the biggest brands. He often writes about MacquarieTelecom and their new business adventures.

 

 

 

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