Are the NSA data collection programs hurting the economy?

What happens when businesses aren’t able to provide the service that customers were promised? That’s right: customers get mad.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published a report indicating that the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance programs aren’t simply putting an end only to our privacy rights; they are also causing major damage to the economy.

Once revelations surfaced and the public was made aware that the spying programs were collecting phone and Internet data from average Americans, major sectors of the U.S economy started to feel the financial damage caused by the loss of consumer confidence. According to EEF, companies that have been compromised by the revelations regarding the surveillance programs are watching as U.S. trade partners simply distance themselves to avoid any potential problems or even lawsuits in the future.

Vodafone, a major European company, was on its way to becoming a sister company to AT&T, whose desire to purchase the European giant was well documented, until the moment details concerning the NSA’s data-collection programs came to light. According to the Wall Street Journal, AT&T could face major issues trying to purchase Vodafone since the company has been under scrutiny for participating in the NSA’s surveillance programs.

The revelations have also made things rocky for Verizon shareholders. According to recent news, shareholders of both Verizon and AT&T are concerned about the companies’ participation in the surveillance programs and demand more details concerning their participation in the data-collection programs.

Many have suggested that these companies have their hands tied since section 215 of the Patriot Act requires companies like AT&T to hand over “all tangible things” they are urged to provide the National Security Agency, which includes customer data.

Companies were being told by the National Institute of Standards and Technology back in September to stop using cryptographic standards, which was later reported by analysts at Cisco Systems. According to their testimony, NIST wanted Cisco Systems and other companies to refrain from using the cryptographic standards if they were compromised after being run through the National Security Agency’s BULLRUN program. According to the company’s analysts, consumers will lose their trust in the company if they learn that the cryptography it has promised its consumers were to be compromised, which could make consumers’ data vulnerable.

Cisco also reported that, as a result of the scandal involving the surveillance programs, the company saw a 12 percent slump in sales all over the world. Cisco executives went on to attest that the NSA’s programs created “a level of uncertainty or concern” that is hard to fight, considering the NSA’s overwhelming power. This problem could also present a major problem for other tech companies

AT&T could be seeing a decrease in the number of consumers since reports concerning the company’s willingness to allow the NSA to directly tap into its fiber optics to make copies of Internet traffic data of millions of Americans were released. It has been said that AT&T has even worked alongside the CIA in other mass surveillance programs.

Because American companies are losing the battle against some competitors due to their lack of ability to promise privacy, about $22 to $35 billion could be lost in the next three years. According to Google, the government’s position regarding the NSA spying programs and how they are only being used to target foreigners is only making it worse for certain tech and Internet companies that work not only with Americans, but with other users across the globe as well.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has cleverly pointed out that if a foreign government were to be doing what the U.S. government is doing to us, there would be tons of thousands of people protesting in the streets, but because the U.S. is carrying out these programs, many people simply believe that this fight is not even worth fighting.

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