Epic Fail Ethics Glenn Greenwald NSA Security The Media

Misreported NSA Witch Hunt Threatens American Business. Again.

The Washington Post reported in early October that the U.S. cloud computing industry has already lost between 21 to 35 billion dollars because of security leaks.

The Associated Press reported this week that the latest leak, which was grossly misreported by Le Monde and Glenn Greenwald, has put a free-trade agreement worth $138 billion at risk.

Revelations of the extent of U.S. spying on its European allies is also threatening to undermine one of President Barack Obama’s top trans-Atlantic goals: a sweeping free-trade agreement that would add an estimated $138 billion (100 billion euros) a year to each economy’s gross domestic product.

Top EU officials say the trust needed for the negotiations has been shattered.

The Associated Press reports that EU officials are considering suspending a “Safe Harbor” agreement that allows American companies to process commercial and personal data inside America for European customers.

If the current Safe Harbor agreement is terminated, the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple, Amazon, and Yahoo would immediately take a hit to their pocket book.

And this is all for naught. The revelation that the NSA was spying on French and Spanish citizens with abandon was a fabrication. French and Spanish intelligence agencies were collecting data on foreign targets and then sharing it with the NSA.

The French newspaper Le Monde has admitted that they got it wrong. Or rather they were duped.

(rough translation via Google)

According to our information, collected from a senior official of the intelligence community in France, the direction of the French foreign service, the DGSE, has, in fact, established in from late 2011 and early 2012, a Memorandum of data exchange with the United States.

France has a strategic position for transportation of electronic data. The submarine cables by which most data from transit Africa and Afghanistan landed at Marseilles and Penmarc in Britain . These strategic areas are within the reach of the French DGSE, which intercepts and stores much of what flows between France and abroad.

  • I’d really like to get some more reporting on what actual losses the cloud industry and the social media platforms are really suffering over Snowden. I keep reading about speculation that these industries *might* suffer, but I haven’t seen any hard numbers of losses. As for the putative $138 billion, that’s an estimate of a trade agreement that wasn’t negotiated yet and that would have had its own problems anyway as Europeans resisted the lifting of regulations, and started up the fuss about frankenfood and all the rest of it. Meanwhile, without this trade agreement, we have a huge multii billion trade balance with the EU. In 2012, we imported $381 billion and exported $265 billion (http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c0003.html). In the first six months of this year alone, we iImported $253 billion and exported $172 billion. In July alone, after the Snowden disclosures, we had a jump to $35 billion imports. I’d love to see this broken down by industry to find out what EU really buys from us related to the Internet and visa versa.

    So look, if the EU is unhappy with that balance and feels it needs to start boycotting our IT related businesses, we can all work to adjust this balance by boycotts instead of trade agreements. Whatever.

    • mrbrink

      “The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has put the putting a dollar amount on the short-term costs: $21.5 to $35 billion over the next three years.”

      Because of the losses and losing in the short term, especially on the key question of trust, which is what U.S. based cloud providers are currently experiencing, the fall-out for the U.S. market will undoubtedly translate to long term losses, as stated by industry experts above. Ask them if the Snowden/Greenwald leaks helped the industry and the answer will be a resounding, “uh, no.”

      Yeah, there’s a lot of what-ifs in play as far as long term outlook, but we have, and will continue to take a hit over this as leaders in the EU are pressured to use this situation as a rallying cry to move their government dollars into a more protectionist posture. Where one industry suffers, another is bound to thrive and perhaps make up the difference, but it’s clear U.S. based cloud providers and IT are now estimated to thrive much less as a result of all this.

      For instance, Reinhard Clemens, CEO of Deutsche Telekom’s T-systems, already boasts: “We’re well-positioned if we can say we’re a European provider in a European legal sphere and no American can get to them.”

      Where “no American can touch them” is a pretty powerful selling point in this climate when you’re looking to capitalize on the fears and anxieties of government leaders suffering through Post-Traumatic-Concern-Trolling-Outrage.

      Agent E and Agent G running around telling the world that the U.S. IT market is poison is bad for business. Before we get in to any trade agreements, we’ve already taken a huge hit. The long term outlook and estimates for U.S. based cloud providers are not positive.

  • trgahan

    Since the Greenwald got the green light (baseless speculation, I know) to initiate the great NSA Freakout of 2013, European news organizations (sans faux-lib dudebro leakers) have been finding and reporting that their own countries have been doing the same (and in some cases worse) than what the NSA is actually doing in America.

    So Le Monde should have known better from the start with this story. But considering Europe is still reeling from austerity and France from its cavernous racial/ethnic divisions; they need something to rally around.

    My guess is the “damage” to this particular treaty is from someone near the negotiations who wants to use it to leverage better terms for their particular side.

    • Badgerite

      The ultimate effects of the Great NSA Freakout of 2013 ( kudos on the name ) could possibly be a less free internet rather than a freer one. Precisely because sovereign nations may use this as a means to gaining greater control over their own citizens use of the internet and that will probably translate into greater surveillance.

      • feloniousgrammar

        Hmm. Interesting. I’m thinking that the result should be taking Booz Allen Hamilton to the woodshed, cracking down on all the NSA contractors, and working on a better system of oversight to greatly reduce the chances of this happening again.

        • Badgerite

          Should be, yes. I blame ‘privatization’. ( otherwise known as government pay just ain’t good enough for us ).
          But internationally and with respect to future operation of the internet globally, a less free and more controlled internet could be the result. (Speculation alert!)

  • Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that another document released (a slide really) shows that the NSA did in fact hack Google front end servers overseas to get at data being stored in the Cloud. From what I’ve read, this is a big deal. So far everything Snowald has released has been a nothingburger but this one appears to be a serious problem. Let’s put it this way….when Google found out about the code on their server, engineers were exploding with expletives. As much as I hate to say it, I think this particular issue needs closer scrutiny. I also think that this is what Snowald should have released day one as it is the most serious one (from an IT, legal and ethical viewpoint).

    • Badgerite

      Yes, it really is. This is the only thing released so far that would even fall into whistle blower category. But of course, he has done so much damage in other areas that it hardly matters.
      But it is only a slide. Whether that has or is going on is anybody’s guess right now. It isn’t like these guys have been terribly accurate before. Why should they start now?

      • Agreed. I’m waiting to hear something official from Google on this.

  • villemar

    Meanwhile German-dictated ultra-austerity is starting to pull Europe into a deflationary spiral. But but but look over here!


  • mk3872

    “The Associated Press reported this week that the latest leak, which was grossly misreportedby Le Monde and Glenn Greenwald, has put a free-trade agreement worth $138 billion at risk”

    I’m pretty sure that outcome is a big part of what paranoid libertarians like Greenwald and Snowden were HOPING to achieve here.

    Remember, ever since the Clinton years, free trade agreements are considered bad, horrible pacts that destroy America and freedom. That is part of the “linkage” between Lefty Libertarians and Righty Libertarians.

    • feloniousgrammar

      There should be a picture of Greenwald in a political dictionary next to “ratfucker”.

  • Churchlady320

    How has it come to pass that esteemed news sources could be so gullible, accept the word and “documents” of a man whose own retailing of his own past has been proven false?
    The drumbeat of hate against the USA should have come several administrations ago but did not since the “whistleblowers” here were great supporters of wiretapping and other surveillance of Muslims and the war in Iraq to bomb and destroy the same. It is beyond comprehension that these people should be considered “civil libertarians” today with an administration that has done more to end abuses to our civil liberties than any in my lifetime.
    Journalists ought to know better. Apparently the drive for the 24/7 scoop is not confined to U.S. news outlets.

  • Nick L.

    The Germans and French talking about trust is pretty rich coming from a couple of countries who will sell weapons to even UN embargoed states. The leaders of allies are beholden to their own people, not those of the US. We shouldn’t trust them at all, Angela Merkel has no political interest in the well-being of Americans so there is really no foundation on which such naive level of trust could even be built. There is no such thing as altruism in foreign relations and even allies should exercise a healthy distrust for each other.

    If the Germans want to start pressing Ed Snowden for information, then I am starting to believe the guy should eat a bullet.