“Everyone was so focused on the NSA secretly getting access to the front door that there was an assumption they weren’t going behind the companies’ backs and tapping data through the back door, too,”
— Kevin Werbach, associate professor at the Wharton School. The New York Times reports that the National Security Agency may have intercepted Google and Yahoo data without the tech giants’ knowledge — which was revealed last month based on the Edward Snowden leaks — with the help of Level 3 Communications, whose fiber-optic cables carry Internet traffic.
Colorado-based Level 3’s response sounds familiar: “It is our policy… to provide government agencies access to customer data only when we are compelled to do so by the laws in the country where the data is located.” Tech companies that have turned over user data to the government have also said they do it when legally required to do so.
Meanwhile, revisiting the fallout: One policy research group says U.S. companies could lose as much as $35 billion in revenue through 2016 because of the revelations about NSA spying. Not only that, reports Bloomberg, concerns over the security of user data could be bad news for a continued open Internet — on which giant U.S. companies such as Google and Apple depend.
As other countries push for more control over the Internet, “you’re going to see national boundaries begin in cyberspace,” said Jason Healey, director of policy group Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council, according to Bloomberg.
Photo: The National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md. (Associated Press archives)