A number of US companies are set to lose an estimated $35 billion collectively due to revelations regarding NSA surveillance, as uncovered by Edward Snowden two years ago, according to a report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). Companies that colluded with the NSA, revealing confidential user data to the US intelligence services, are expected to be shunned, especially by international users, with severe repercussions for their business.
“Foreign customers are shunning U.S. companies,” the report says, with some foreign governments also working to block American tech businesses from their countries.
Though the ITIF is a think tank founded by members of Congress, it is a non-partisan organisation that aims to look at the tech world impartially. The ITIF estimates that the fallout from the NSA’s PRISM program being leaked by Snowden will cost US firms between $21.5 and $35 billion – but “will likely far exceed $35 billion,” according to the report – with cloud computing companies, such as Dropbox, the worst affected.
The report, however, includes the following five suggestions for US companies to reverse the trend and win back customer confidence:
- Increase transparency surrounding U.S. surveillance activities, both at home and abroad.
- Strengthen information security by opposing any government efforts to introduce backdoors in software or weaken encryption.
- Strengthen U.S. mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs).
- Work to establish international legal standards for government access to data.
- Complete trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that ban digital protectionism and pressure nations that seek to erect protectionist barriers to abandon those efforts.
The reports concludes, “When historians write about this period in U.S. history, it could very well be that one of the themes will be how the United States lost its global technology leadership to other nations,” the report’s authors, Daniel Castro and Alan McQuinn, write. “And clearly one of the factors they would point to is the long-standing privileging of U.S. national-security interests over U.S. industrial and commercial interests when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.”
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