Tech Firms in League with NSA Surveillance, Report Says

by Matt Klassen on September 10, 2013

For the past several decades it was the stuff of science fiction and dystopian prophecy, the notion that Big Brother was watching our every move and that key government agencies had worked backdoors into key encryption software and every major database in the world. It turns out its true.

While with every new revelation the ongoing NSA PRISM surveillance scandal we learn more about the dastardly deeds of the American government, it now looks like such covert operations could start having deleterious effects on American companies.

In fact, the suspicion, distrust, and fear-mongering usually reserved for Chinese telecom hardware firms may soon be heaped upon America’s high tech firms operating in other countries, as the latest revelation regarding the NSA is that the covert agency has partnered with many American high tech companies to create encryption backdoors, circumventing or cracking much of the digital security protecting the world’s most important information (banking, medical etc…).

Such partnerships, analysts warn, will almost certainly have a negative impact on telecom vendors, encryption vendors, and practically every other American high tech company working abroad, as suspicion about who is in league with the American government continues to mount.

According to a report published by ProPublica, the NSA has been working with key U.S. companies to create backdoors into encryption and security software and hardware, allowing the NSA to access copious amounts of data behind fire walls companies have long considered virtually ironclad. Further, the report indicates that the NSA has created supercomputers whose sole purpose is to crack top level encryption, vindication to conspiracy theory author Dan Brown no doubt.

But again, we all knew the NSA was dirty, that the agency’s code of conduct wasn’t even worth the paper it was written on. The real news here is the collusion of private sector companies, high tech industry leaders (although no names have been named) who have created backdoors to encryption software and hardware and given that information to the NSA. Given that the global business world is unsure of which American companies are involved and who are not; analysts predict such a scandal “will have huge economic ramifications, as worldwide consumer and business trust in U.S. products decline.”

As TechNewsWorld writer Richard Adhikari notes, “[such economic ramifications] could hit the U.S. economy hard — U.S. Department of Commerce statistics show that theU.S.exported nearly US$204 billion worth of computer and electronics products in 2012, while importing more than $355 billion worth of those products, to chalk up a deficit of more than $151 billion.”

Of course the most tantalizing story here, at least for me, is the hypocrisy, as it was only a few short months ago that the U.S. House Intelligence Committee railed against Chinese hardware vendors Huawei and ZTE over similar collusion with the Chinese communist government, stating security concerns linked to surveillance and espionage and warning American companies from doing business with them. Accusations that were based on evidence far more scant than this. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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