NSA Prism: Google, Facebook Want More TransparencyFearing loss of customer trust, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter ask for permission to share more information about government data demands.
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Although there might be national security benefits to the NSA's collection of phone and Internet data
, there also might be national economic costs.
U.S. Internet companies are now being viewed in a different light, one that could dim the prospects of business from abroad.
Already, according to Russian media company RT, Russian MP Ilya Kostunov has sent letters to the heads of the country's defense and communications ministries seeking support for punishing civil servants' use of U.S. social networks and Internet services under a recently broadened treason law.
Viviane Reding, Commissioner of Justice for the European Union, meanwhile announced on Wednesday that she intends to raise the issue of U.S. data collection at a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday. In a statement, she expressed concern about the business implications of mass surveillance. In other words, loss of individual privacy is not the only thing at stake.
[ Would knowing more about how the NSA combs data ease your privacy concerns? Read Defending NSA Prism's Big Data Tools. ]
"Trust that the rule of law will be respected also is essential to the stability and growth of the digital economy, including transatlantic business," she said. "This is of paramount importance for individuals and companies alike."
Time will tell whether this is political posturing or a sea change that limits the commercial opportunities of U.S. technology companies abroad in the same way that national security concerns last year limited the ability of Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei to compete for U.S. government contracts. But the U.S. companies implicated in the NSA surveillance scandal are not waiting to find out whether they need to address a loss of customer confidence.
Google on Tuesday asked Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller to allow the company to publish information about the full range of government demands for user data that it receives.
Google already publishes partial information in its semi-annual transparency report, but it does not include data demands related to national security, apart from a count of National Security letters received.
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