The NSA Hurts US Companies

By spying through them, the NSA hurts US companies like Facebook.

In the case of Facebook, I’m not that concerned. But I am sure it is going on with other US technology companies as well. Instead of exporting a trusted product that people in other nations want to use, they fear our companies and are suspicious of what the government is doing through them. When the company is one that reaches mass numbers of individual consumers overseas, each and every one of them can learn to resent Americans for getting them to use a tainted product.

According to The Guardian: “Leave Facebook if you don’t want to be spied on, warns EU.”

The European Commission has warned EU citizens that they should close their Facebook accounts if they want to keep information private from US security services, finding that current Safe Harbour legislation does not protect citizen’s data.

The comments were made by EC attorney Bernhard Schima in a case brought by privacy campaigner Maximilian Schrems, looking at whether the data of EU citizens should be considered safe if sent to the US in a post-Snowden revelation landscape.

“You might consider closing your Facebook account, if you have one,” Schima told attorney general Yves Bot in a hearing of the case at the European court of justice in Luxembourg.

When asked directly, the commission could not confirm to the court that the Safe Harbour rules provide adequate protection of EU citizens’ data as it currently stands.

The case, dubbed “the Facebook data privacy case”, concerns the current Safe Harbour framework, which covers the transmission of EU citizens’ data across the Atlantic to the US. Without the framework, it is against EU law to transmit private data outside of the EU. The case collects complaints lodged against Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Microsoft-owned Skype and Yahoo.

Schrems maintains that companies operating inside the EU should not be allowed to transfer data to the US under Safe Harbour protections – which state that US data protection rules are adequate if information is passed by companies on a “self-certify” basis – because the US no longer qualifies for such a status.

Nothing about what the NSA is doing is necessarily unconstitutional. One could easily argue that the need to keep us secure means we should be spying on people in foreign lands.

[See also, “Government Threatened Yahoo To Make It Violate Constitution and Users’ Privacy.”]

But that’s not the only consideration.

Our security is not only maintained by intelligence gathering. It is also maintained by encouraging good will and mutually beneficial trade. We protect ourselves from enemies by not making new ones. We build up trust. We show that we are promoters of the rule of law for the nations.

The NSA hurts US companies by destroying that trust. When it does so, it also hurts the reputation of the United States as a whole.