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Thursday, January 9, 2014

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“What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies." Director of National Intelligence James Clapper

There has been a torrent of lurid information in the last six months delineating the reaches of NSA spying. After our government spent the last year castigating the chinese for spying, it turns out that we have our own microphones firmly implanted up the hindquarters of pretty much every foreign leader, government, company and I daresay human, in the world.

You have to wonder if our spooks ever considered the downside risks of the inevitable disclosure of this kind of information, the kind of espionage reported recently by Der Spiegel? The NSA's TAO hacking unit, sometimes in complicity with security companies like RSA, have managed to trapdoor most of the backbone pipelines of the web. This new occupation is called Computer Network Exploitation (CNE).

The hypocrisy is of course, thick. When you do it, it is evil but when we do it, it serves a vital economic interest. Never forget that we wear the white hats. We only use our superpowers to do good. Does any rational person actually believe that the NSA doesn't aggressively promote United States economic interests?

The backlash to these disclosures has been fierce and is I think going to get worse. You can take the simplistic route and blame Snowden for all this. Some will say that all countries do it and it is not our fault that we happen to be the best at it.  These countries should just grow up. But unfortunately the chickens appear to be coming home to roost.

Boeing recently lost a big jet deal to Saab in Brazil, a country palpably angry over the extent of our spying. It was revealed that the NSA collected financial data from the network of Brazil's state-run oil company, Petrobras in addition to behemoths Google and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a European money-transfer cooperative.

 Cisco is now getting cut out of a lot of deals in China, as are Dell, IBM, EMC and HP. Economic snooping is going to end up costing us a lot of business. The U.S. cloud computing industry may lose up to $35 billion over three years if foreign customers decide it’s too risky to store data with U.S. companies, according to Financial Times reports. Forrester Research Inc. estimates that NSA’s Prism could cost as much as $180 billion in lost revenue worldwide. Considering our behavior, you really can't blame anybody for not wanting to play or trade with us.

"We shouldn't have gathered economic intelligence under the guise of security -- not with an ally," said former President Bill Clinton during a recent trip to Rio de Janeiro.

The NSA has even used Microsoft error messages to trap its unsuspecting prey. It is amazing to me that our information providers are now forced to spend so much time trying to figure out how to keep our own government out of our sock drawers. Of course if the NSA manages to get its quantum computer built, no encryption will be unbreakable, no secret will be safe.

Like the unwary frog in the pot we are getting boiled to death by the total surveillance state, one small degree at a time.

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