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NSA Spying Fallout Hits French Satellite Deal

from the guilt-by-association dept

Techdirt has already noted how the NSA’s massive spying programs around the world are costing US companies money through lost business — and are likely to cost them even more in the future. But it seems that the fallout is even wider, as this story from The Voice of Russia makes clear:

The sale of two intelligence satellites by France to the UAE [United Arab Emirates] for nearly $1bln could go bust after the satellites were found to contain US technology designed to intercept data transmitted to the ground station.

A top UAE defence source said that the satellites contain specific US-made components designed to intercept the satellites’ communication with their accompanying ground station.

As a result, the UAE might do a deal with the Russians instead:

An unnamed UAE defence source said that it is not clear if the US equipment can be taken off the French satellites, so the incident has resulted in an increase of talks with Moscow, which, along with Beijing, has also been a frequent defence technology supplier to the Emirates.

So it seems likely that not only will US companies find it hard to sell their wares directly to nations that are worried about possible surveillance, but foreign manufacturers will also be reluctant to include certain types of US technology in their own products, since that might cost them contracts. The price being paid by US businesses for the NSA’s “collect it all” approach continues to rise.

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Comments on “NSA Spying Fallout Hits French Satellite Deal”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: They /should/ care

the security agencies don’t care.


Most big companies probably didn’t, or even still don’t, care about the NSA or similar agencies and what they’re doing. Sure it might lead to a little more hassle, handing over a bunch of customer data to some agency, but usually they can just get some low-ranking employee to handle that(who also doubles as a nice scape-goat just in case), and often they can use it to bargain a bit, get something out of the deal too.

However, when those companies suddenly start seeing drastic cuts in profit, when suddenly multi-million, or even billion dollar contracts go to someone else or aren’t renewed because of the actions of the security agencies and how those actions affect the companies, suddenly they notice, a lot, and with the money they can throw around, some of these companies have enormous clout and influence, something they can, and likely will, use to ‘protect their profits’.

A few phones calls, a few ‘suggestions’ into the right ears, and suddenly politicians who were sitting on the fence, or even previously for the activities of the ‘security’ agencies are talking about how they ‘need to be reigned in’ and ‘need more extensive oversight’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: They /should/ care

yes. and the same politicians get another call afterwards with samples of their dirty laundry to convince them otherwise.

he is right, the agencies don’t care, they don’t have to. the only way to deal with them is to starve or overload them with information and internationally isolate the country responsible.

but then we are back to dirty laundry of other countries.

these agencies need to be shut down in one action, and the people responsible judged for the crimes against humanity that they are, or nothing will change.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes. Imagine if a portion of your local population were well educated and had high tech jobs that could write software and design chips.

We also now live in a world where designing chips and fabbing chips are two different things. Design your own chips. Outsource fabbing them in a process technology that is not the latest, greatest, smallest feature size imaginable. Use COTS parts, general purpose microprocessors and program them. Use FPGAs. Outsource things where you can verify that the end product is exactly what you expect.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I don’t know about Russia for sure, but China I’m 99% sure has done that kind of spying to from what I’ve heard. At the very least, the US government sure assumes any Chinese tech company trying to do business in the US is spying on them. So they must have good reason to suspect it, even though it’s totally hypocritical of them.

any moose cow word says:

Re: Re:

The great thing about these trade agreements is that the US government ramrods clauses into them in the belief that none of them could ever be used against itself. Historically, the US has yet to held to a single agreement against it’s will, or rather against the will of its corporate allies (aka political “campaign financiers”). The ones that had been “enforced” were in reality placed purposefully by corporate interest to get what they wanted in the first place.

How long can the US government lean on its global influence to get carte blanche for its misdeeds?

Anonymous Coward says:

so do you think that this is why the USTR is pushing so hard to include the ‘suing governments’ option in TPP? like that, from what i understand, any company that feels it is losing money because of something done by a government can then sue that government. would this type of scenario be included in that?
i would have thought that this sort of one sided, USA advantage clause would be the sure fire way to start a new war, if nothing else did! no country is going to allow itself to be bankrupted by a company, particularly from another country and if it has any sense, wouldn’t risk that either if it meant being detrimental to it’s citizens!

Anonymous Coward says:

good source?

Is this a reliable story? Given the topic, “Voice of Russia” doesn’t inspire me with confidence. Has this story been confirmed by French media?

Seriously, does UAE need a billion dollars worth of spy satellites? What the hell for? And is that a good thing?

Yes, US tech might have NSA backdoors. But someone should check this specific story out — I suspect Glyn might have got suckered.

Richard (profile) says:


I would expect a competant intelligence agency to collect this kind of stuff. I would also expect a competant intelligence agency not to get caught.

By this measure the NSA is not a competant intelligence agency.

It has become sloppy because it has got used to using tame judges and politicians to cover up for its mistakes instead of avoiding making them in the first case. It has probably also become sloppy because it has grown to large and acquired too broad a brief.

This is a disaster because the NSA’s incompetence has resulted in it being unable to fulfil its proper role.

Anonymous Coward says:

Doesn’t matter the people behind such abuse don’t just own the NSA they own pretty much every everything and every government. You’d be a fool to think Russia is any better or this play is even real at all. It’s a game to them because it does not matter who makes it and they know that.

I use to think Alex Jones was a paranoid schizophrenic out of his fucking mind and then Snowden happened. Now I think the jokes on me.

Anonymous Coward says:

It is a real sad state of affairs when China and Russia are more trusted than the USA.

How much further can the USA decline into disrepute?

How far will they drag the rest of society down with them?

How long before the only thing that the USA can export are movies and songs? I can see this also leading to increased piracy, in that “well the US can just take my personal data without permission or paying for it, so it is only fair when I take data from the US without permission or paying for it.”

How long before the US becomes a 3rd world country left behind by the rest of the world?

Hide Behind says:

Back doors and the milkman

Lets go back to a little war upon Iraq that had invaded Kuwait and the plight of Iraqs Air Force and Army’s lack of computers.
WHEN US invaded Irag the Iraq air force pilots found it had no satellite guidance or computer controlled weaponry or radar and took off flying visual land references towards Iran.
Seems no matter what nations ; France, Britain, US and Russia fighters and euro built helicopters, all could be satellite disabled tp some extent.
Only nation without its air force hav ing this hidden backdoor in the on board computer systems was Israel
Israelis purchased fadvancedvfighters had Israeli designed systems
The Israelis had to be carefully not to stray towards Iraq border because not even the US could read isreali on board ID.
Lets not pretend otherwise and wether France or any Euros were privy or not to NSA info does not matter as they are no more than tag a longs for US Empire Building.
Russia knows all its telecommunicationsbwill be uselessness does China if it ever were to come to US wanting to bloody them.
It is all high stakes games but the Dealer, US is trying to get a cut out of EVRRY hand.

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