One More Benefit From Snowden: Companies No Longer Lulled Into Helping NSA Without Legal Basis
from the sunshine-does-amazing-things dept
To some extent, you can understand why: not only is it easy to assume that government officials demanding information from you have some sort of serious reason for doing so, all of it happened in secret -- meaning that the "benefits" to pushing back often seemed slight, while the costs could be tremendous.
Ed Snowden changed that cost-benefit equation in a big, big way.
And it's most obvious in this simple way: companies are now proactively doing everything possible to counteract the NSA, realizing that they actually have to think about the impact on their customers when (not if) these programs become public. What used to be a simple relationship, with a lot of help from various companies, has changed to something much more approaching a directly adversarial relationship.
As fast as it can, Google is sealing up cracks in its systems that Edward J. Snowden revealed the N.S.A. had brilliantly exploited. It is encrypting more data as it moves among its servers and helping customers encode their own emails. Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo are taking similar steps.There is still a long way to go, but just the fact that companies now have to take into account "how will this look when splashed across the internet" means that they're already going much, much further in protecting the privacy of their users and customers.
After years of cooperating with the government, the immediate goal now is to thwart Washington — as well as Beijing and Moscow. The strategy is also intended to preserve business overseas in places like Brazil and Germany that have threatened to entrust data only to local providers.
A year after Mr. Snowden’s revelations, the era of quiet cooperation is over. Telecommunications companies say they are denying requests to volunteer data not covered by existing law. A.T.&T., Verizon and others say that compared with a year ago, they are far more reluctant to cooperate with the United States government in “gray areas” where there is no explicit requirement for a legal warrant.