How the NSA Scandal Is Hurting Cloud Computing
According to a new study, the National Security Agency's PRISM program—which allows for the collection of mass data from certain sites—is leading to a backlash against cloud computing companies in the U.S.
The news that the National Security Agency has been collecting and storing data about the internet usage of a vast number of Americans has raised eyebrows for many observers—though the practice has defenders who cite homeland security.
But according to the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), a trade group that represents the interests of the cloud computing industry, the revelations have had a chilling effect on the industry as a whole.
About the report: The alliance’s Government Access to Information Survey fielded responses from 456 of its members between June 25 and July 9—when the NSA issue was the focus of heavy news coverage. The survey found that 56 percent of foreign respondents were less likely to use a U.S.-based cloud service such as Dropbox or Windows Azure. And 36 percent of U.S. cloud service providers said that the fallout over the information on surveillance programs leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has made it less likely that they would get foreign business. “CSA members, by their very nature, have a heightened sense of concern about issues of trustworthiness in cloud computing,” the survey results state. “Even so, the results point to a great deal of concern as to the impact on commercial cloud computing activities as a consequence of this news.”
Should laws be changed? Many CSA respondents agreed that the PATRIOT Act, which includes the provisions that allowed for the NSA program, should either be modified (45 percent) or repealed in its entirely (41 percent). Meanwhile, libertarian-leaning Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) proposed an amendment to a defense spending bill that would have taken away funding from the NSA’s program. While the House didn’t pass the amendment, the measure failed only barely, 205-217, in a vote this week. The vote was contentious and did not fall along traditional party lines, with supporters and opponents on both sides of the aisle.