Marc Andreessen Thinks Snowden, Administration Are To Blame For Backlash Against US Tech Industry

from the but-not-the-NSA,-for-some-reason dept

Marc Andreessen, venture capitalist, has weighed in on the Snowden leaks, putting forth what even he terms to be an “unpopular” view. On CNBC’s Squawk Box, he lead with this statement:

Obviously, he’s a traitor. Like, if you look up in the encyclopedia, traitor, there’s a picture of Edward Snowden. He’s a textbook traitor. I’m in the distinct minority out here. I think most people in Silicon Valley would pick the other designation.

Being a traitor and committing treason falls under a very distinct definition. In Andreessen’s dictionary (the one with Snowden’s picture), this definition runs as follows:

Because he stole national security secrets and gave them to everybody on the planet.

Whereas the Constitution clearly defines treason as this:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

Giving documents to “everybody on the planet” is not specifically “aiding or comforting” enemies of the United States. While it may have given some of them guidance on how to avoid surveillance, there’s been no evidence presented that the leaks have done any specific harm to the US. There’s been a lot of handwringing about the implications of the leaks, but the most specific claims released to date by the US government deal with Defense Dept. docs supposedly in Snowden’s possession which, even if they exist (the NSA still doesn’t know what Snowden took), haven’t been released to anybody.

But Andreessen’s most spectacular statement is also his most self-serving. He decries the damage done to US tech companies by the leaks, but rather than hold the NSA responsible, he shoots the messenger — and wings the President.

[A]merican technology companies get a huge amount of revenue from outside the US. In fact, some of these companies get up to 70% of revenue outside the US and there’s a big open question right now, how successful our companies will be when they go to sell products overseas. And there are a lot of foreign countries that are very envious of Silicon Valley and America’s domination of tech and wish they could implement protection policies and will use this whole affair as a reason to do that…

The administration is just letting — they’re letting the American tech industry out to dry. I haven’t met anybody who feels like the White House has a plan, It’s just happening.

Andreessen’s responses don’t find anything necessarily wrong with the NSA’s actions. The problem, as he sees it, lies with the “traitor” who exposed the NSA’s subversion of tech company hardware and software. The administration is also partly to blame for not having done enough to shelter the tech world from the fallout of the NSA leaks. Andreessen also (via Twitter) blames both Americans for misunderstanding the NSA’s programs and the media for misrepresenting the 702 program, implying that tech companies were working with the NSA to collect American communications.

But as far as he can see it, the agency itself is nearly blameless. He’s “not surprised” the agency was spying. After all, it has thousands of employees and billions in funding (actual budget numbers exposed by another leak). What else were we Americans to believe it was doing with all that manpower and money?

Well, I’m fairly sure we weren’t expecting to find it was grabbing bulk metadata on Americans’ phone calls or sweeping up tons of “incidental” communications via its many surveillance programs. We weren’t expecting it to have partnered with other nations to help them surveil their own citizens. And we certainly weren’t expecting it to hand off unminimized data to other nations’ intelligence agencies.

This is a very close-minded and self-centered view of the situation. That tech companies were damaged is unfortunate, but the blame lies with the agency that aims to “collect it all,” rather than the person who exposed the egregious excesses done in the name of “security.” And if the administration is to blame for anything, it’s for not reining the NSA in over the years, rather than for not sheltering the industry from fallout.

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Comments on “Marc Andreessen Thinks Snowden, Administration Are To Blame For Backlash Against US Tech Industry”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Well imagine that...

He’s basically saying that U.S. tech companies are struggling with foreign trade – because the U.S. government has used that same foreign trade as a Trojan horse to spy on the rest of the world?

Who woulda thunk. Well actually, pretty much EVERYONE could have predicted this outcome once it was known what was going on. Any tech company that knowingly went along with the U.S. government’s spying programs deserves what is coming to them now.

I feel bad for the employees, consumers, and shareholders who had no clue what was going on – these guys will never get any justice, as nobody who deserves to will ever go to jail for this.

Jay (profile) says:

When in doubt

So it’s obvious what’s going on here. Anytime you go against those in power, expect vilification.

When in doubt, vilify your offenders.

Vilify anyone supporting them. Don’t think logically, destroy your opponent through baseless rhetoric until nothing is left. The idea that someone is a traitor gives it power and the Public Relations campaign must continue even in the face of truth.

Edward Bernays would be proud.

TestPilotDummy says:

gaslighting video

Sheep could do with watching the video “Bill Whittle on the regime’s gaslighting. ” It will connect dots.

Let’s say I am evil regime. Pretend I have psychiatrists who want bonus’s for mental ward lockups and drug sales.

In the interview, I punch you in the mouth, and ask how your feeling, you say angry, and I diagnose you with, “ODD” angry with possibility to do violent harm to self or others, and press the secret button under the desk. — Now with all these bonus’s from lockin up returning vets, and gun owners, and people who talk about the constitution and oath, just like “the Wolf Of Wall Street”, I can go buy that Lamborghini and a few lines and hookers.

This is the logic going on.

Yeah, people don’t want to buy hardware with backdoors… DUH.. Your not crazy!

Want an example?
Admin Official Suggests Bergdahl Squadmates are ?Psychopaths?

There’s your gaslighting.

The DSM -5 isn’t SCIENCE!!! psychiatrists were not even doctors until recently, and SSRI’s don’t heal mental problems they create violent people. Exiting this insane system, and getting support by family and friends is the cure. If you go to a psychiatrist, you will be put on SSRI’s!

Take care not to allow the .gov secrecy trolls to GASLIGHT this issue. They broke their oaths. And now they desire provide the solution by makin it the new normal, when they should all be doing LIFE IN FT. LEAVENWORTH.

TestPilotDummy says:

Re: gaslighting video

Want an example?
Admin Official Suggests Bergdahl Squadmates are ?Psychopaths?

There’s your gaslighting.

I forgot, Here’s the answer back to this…

A psychopath has a missing part of the brain.
Let’s Look at their brains.

BUT… if your going to claim to be able to say people are psychopaths, then YOU TOO GET TO GET TESTED. Starting with
POTUS, Senate, House, and all Law Enforcement and SPY Agencies. If that part of the brain is missing your career is DONE. TOAST.

give them a taste of their own medicine.
submit to a test you lying, murdering psychopaths!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: gaslighting video

This is wrong. Psychopaths do not have a missing part of the brain; it is merely that, in general, their collective brain structure is different. In the same way that autistic people have differently-wired brains. In addition, there’s a particular gene-set that increases a persons psychopathic tendencies, making it much more likely that the person is to become a psychopath. The combination of these two together is what causes a massive predisposition (not does not guarantee) psychopathy.

I should know, I’ve been tested for both of them.

peepsie (profile) says:

Re: gaslighting video

just, you know, for the record here…

psychiatrists are neurologists, and very much have ALWAYS been doctors.

You may possibly be thinking of psychologist, and I use the term thinking very broadly in your case…

however, psychologists don’t prescribe medications. Only psychiatrists, who, again, are NEUROLOGISTS… who are and always HAVE been physicians…

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Well, to be fair, in the colloquial sense of the word Snowden is a traitor… to the NSA.

It’s just that people disagree about whether that also means he’s a traitor to the government, or to the American people, or indeed to America itself.

Under the Constitution, you can’t charge someone with treason unless their acts satisfy the criteria quoted in this article – and Snowden’s do not. However, the colloquial sense of “traitor” – which may well be defined in some textbooks – does not rely on, or even particularly relate to, the word “treason”.

The colloquial sense of “traitor” is, for practical purposes, merely a more extreme and more loaded version of “betrayer”. You see that all the time, as for example when one friend reveals something embarrassing about another to a third, and the second calls the first a traitor.

I suspect that much of the discourse about Snowden involving the word “traitor” is using, and relying on, that colloquial sense. Where that becomes dangerous is when people allow that to color their opinions on what is applicable in legal terms, and on whether Snowden meets the legal definition of a traitor.

Anonymous Coward says:

Pretty much everyone knew where the end conclusion was going to go for American International Corporations. The NSA playing the innocent card only makes it worse when they are exposed as lying.

The real blame here lays not with Snowden but the entire government mentality that thinks all this spying is a good thing and only needs to be hidden.

Snowden is a whistle blower who could no more do the right thing through offical channels than any of the whistle blowers before him. He had tons of examples of where that leads when you push it. Still he gave it a shot.

When the profits start getting real slim for those same global corporations, let us see how well they support those in office who don’t want any change to the present operations. When you threaten the politician’s job, either by supporting his rival or by denying him his campaign war chest contributions, they suddenly get religion on the topic. This is what it is going to take and we have two years for this to work on those corporate bottom lines.

Anonymous Coward says:

keeping secrets

NSA has a big secret to keep, it became their main mission, so everyone in the organization would have known a part of it, bits of it were illegal, and the NSA only draws its employees from that small pool of intellegent honest people, then the organization adjusts attitudes so its personel can engage the mission.
Some are too stubourn to be corrupted. These good honest people become disenchanted by the organization, they go back to those things that are foundations of their identity like, the constitution, church, academic life, hobbies, etc.
The ones that run back to the constitution are the problem, they relise the organization is doing illegal stuff, and their honesty kicks in.

If it wasn’t Snowden and his sense of outrage, at the NSA illegal actions, it would have been some other tom, dick or harriette.

The NSA should have known better than tring to keep such a big secret. If more than 1 person knows, then the secret will leak. mean time to leak = k x 1/(number who know)

Anonymous Coward says:

Some of the blame does lie with the tech industry. Their security is, and in many cases remains, lax. Google only started encrypting traffic between its servers after the Snowden revelations and only now have started to implement client-side encryption. Most other tech companies are doing even less than Google.

John says:

How would he feel

I wonder how Marc Andreessen would feel if his communications had been read by say Indian intelligence and he missed out on a VC deal because his Indian competition undercut him at the last minute. Would he have a problem with that? Maybe one of the reasons Marc is happy for the NSA to spy is he could be a recipient (indirectly & deniable) of the commercial information the NSA has collected both inside & outside of the USA.

Whatever says:

hes right and wrong

He’s right, by textboos definition Snowden is a traitor, because his general release of information surely has aided enemies of the US.

However, he’s wrong to blame him for the problems of US business as a result. Those problems are there because US businesses seemed to be very lax when it came to securing customer data on their networks. They have nobody else to blame except themselves. Quite simply, Google and many others should have been more careful, and they would have not been contributors to the problem.

Then again, it appears that some of them may have been willing contributors. That’s a different issue.

Andreessen needs to aim his comments a little better.

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:

Re: hes right and wrong

“He’s right, by textboos definition Snowden is a traitor, because his general release of information surely has aided enemies of the US.”

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. This is one of them, and it’s been made by quite a few people. The problem is that there is no evidence to support it.

The United States is not the only country that’s funding a huge complex of governmental/commercial espionage, intelligence and data gathering. Everyone else who can is doing the same thing(s). Some of them are very good at it. And just as memos written in Moscow and Beijing are read in Washington, reports from DC are read in those capitals as well. Of course they are. It’s what spies do.

The thing is that countries with effective intelligence operations do not make a practice of revealing just how effective they are. They don’t show their cards unless either (a) the information becomes public or (b) the situation demands it — which doesn’t happen often.

In other words, nothing Snowden has disclosed was probably news to anybody who cares. The Chinese already knew. The Russians knew. The British knew. It’s just that NOW they can admit that they know and pretend that they know because of Snowden…when in fact this is all really old news to them.

The accusations of “traitor” that are being thrown are bogus UNLESS someone can show that his disclosures are in fact the source for an adversary’s knowledge AND that the knowledge damages the US in some significant way. Nobody is even remotely close to clearing that bar. So let’s just stuff the naive, clueless, ignorant talk of “traitor” until someone puts proof on the table.

(Which is unlikely because the cowards and weaklings will use their favorite excuse — “national security” — to claim that such proof exists but will refuse to show it to the American people. All such claims should be treated as exactly what they are: bald-faced lies.)

Pawn to d4 says:

This cannot be a new idea...

?but the NSA, and its apologists, cannot admit that NSA actions have harmed commerce. Any such admission would possibly give a basis to future lawsuits where tech companies sue the NSA for lost profits, financial damages, and the like.

I cannot seem to recall off-hand, so I will ask what may be a stupid question: are there any companies who have taken legal action?requesting, say, a declaratory judgment from a court?against the NSA?

Daemon_ZOGG (profile) says:

Clueless is, as clueless does...

Andreessen: “And there are a lot of foreign countries that are very envious of Silicon Valley and America’s domination of tech and wish they could implement protection policies and will use this whole affair as a reason to do that?”

I think we’re beyond that now. Despite the fact that most US tech is still built/assembled in Asia or Europe. I won’t buy network communications tech from US firms anymore (i.e. switches, routers, etc). I build my own enterprise servers from non-US parts. It’s a real shame I can’t trust US tech anymore. Damn the nsa. They SUCK on so many levels. Snowden is a hero of the people, for alerting the world to the police state actions of the nsa. Nuff said.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I have a simple rule I live by nowadays.

I don’t know. The NSA, itself, and the DoJ, seem to be waging war on it’s own government, at least in a “We, the people” sense of the word. I would personally like to see some action against people who may have violated the constitution, jeopardized our economy, and created a hostile environment for US citizens across the globe.

Where Marc Andreessen gets it wrong, is just where the blame should go…

Anonymous Coward says:

I suspect that much of the discourse about Snowden involving the word “traitor” is using, and relying on, that colloquial sense. Where that becomes dangerous is when people allow that to color their opinions on what is applicable in legal terms, and on whether Snowden meets the legal definition of a traitor.

I think it’s also dangerous for people to forget that their country was founded basically to protest such broad definitions of treason.

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