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.