Distrust Costs Money: How The NSA Is Making Europe Spend On New Infrastructure

As I’ve noted before, tapping Angela Merkel’s phone was not an unconstitutional act as far as I can tell. But that doesn’t mean it was right or wise or good to spy on our allies. Now that it has become clear to the world that the United States cannot be trusted, suddenly we find incredible new expenditures are required.

According to Reuters:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday she would talk to French President Francois Hollande about building up a European communication network to avoid emails and other data passing through the United States.

Merkel, who visits France on Wednesday, has been pushing for greater data protection in Europe following reports last year about mass surveillance in Germany and elsewhere by the U.S. National Security Agency. Even Merkel’s cell phone was reportedly monitored by American spies.

Merkel said in her weekly podcast that she disapproved of companies such as Google and Facebook basing their operations in countries with low levels of data protection while being active in countries such as Germany with high data protection.

“We’ll talk with France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection,” Merkel said.

“Above all, we’ll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn’t have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic. Rather, one could build up a communication network inside Europe.”

So Merkel wants “data protection.” Protection from whom? Protection from the NSA, of course. Protection from the United States. Protection from us. We are now France’s and Germany’s main cybersecurity threat. So now they have to spend time, money, and effort constructing their own network.

The NSA has basically started a cold war with our allies without informing us of its plan to do so. We never got to vote on a candidate’s NSA policy because we were never told about any NSA policy. It was all secret government.

But are we really better off with our allies feeling a need to spend money on their own network security rather than on other things that they might purchase from us? In the meantime, US cloud data storage and network providers may be losing their European customers. No one wants to pay money to a company to give their data away to the NSA.

The lesson here is that distrust is expensive. By destroying confidence in the integrity of Americans to not abuse their technology, the international market has been wounded. Rather than trade with one another, each nation must now develop their own technology so that they can avoid being entangled in the U.S. spy grid.

This is just one more way that peace brings prosperity when it is established and not undermined.