Blowback from the NSA Surveillance

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Bruce Schneier

Bruce Schneier

There’s one piece of blow­back that isn’t being dis­cussed — aside from the fact that Snow­den has killed the chances of any lib­er­al arts major get­ting a DoD job for at least a decade — and that’s how the mas­sive NSA sur­veil­lance of the Inter­net affects the US’s role in Inter­net gov­er­nance.

Ron Deib­ert makes this point:

But there are unin­tend­ed con­se­quences of the NSA scan­dal that will under­mine U.S. for­eign pol­i­cy inter­ests — in par­tic­u­lar, the “Inter­net Free­dom” agen­da espoused by the U.S. State Depart­ment and its allies.

The rev­e­la­tions that have emerged will undoubt­ed­ly trig­ger a reac­tion abroad as pol­i­cy­mak­ers and ordi­nary users real­ize the huge dis­ad­van­tages of their depen­dence on U.S.-controlled net­works in social media, cloud com­put­ing, and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, and of the for­mi­da­ble resources that are deployed by U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty agen­cies to mine and mon­i­tor those net­works.

Writ­ing about the new Inter­net nation­al­ism, I talked about the ITU meet­ing in Dubai last fall, and the attempt of some coun­tries to wrest con­trol of the Inter­net from the US. That move­ment just got a huge PR boost. Now, when coun­tries like Rus­sia and Iran say the US is sim­ply too untrust­wor­thy to man­age the Inter­net, no one will be able to argue.

We can’t fight for Inter­net free­dom around the world, then turn around and destroy it back home. Even if we don’t see the con­tra­dic­tion, the rest of the world does.