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By Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/US, CIPP/E

Connections Between Silicon Valley and the NSA

The New York Times reports on the connection between the National Security Agency (NSA) and various leaders and start-ups in Silicon Valley. One-time Facebook Chief Security Officer Max Kelly, who oversaw the protection of the personal information of nearly one billion users, left the social networking company to join the NSA. Kelly’s job change “underscores the increasingly deep connections between Silicon Valley and the agency and the degree to which they are now in the same business,” the report states. With both sides, private-sector industry and U.S. government intelligence, mining data on the Internet, a “more complex reality” has taken root. The synergy consists of Silicon Valley being able to provide authorities with vast troves of consumer data and sophisticated technology to analyze the data. In turn, to acquire and develop advanced data analyzation tools, U.S. intelligence agencies “invest in Silicon Valley start-ups, award classified contracts and recruit technology experts like Mr. Kelly,” the report states.

However, during a live Q&A hosted by The Guardian, Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said the company is “not in cahoots with (the) NSA.” 

Reuters reports on a cloud security summit held on Wednesday. Rackspace’s chief technology officer asked, “Are people concerned about doing business with the United States and what the U.S. could do with their data? The answer is yes…It’s something as a country we need to figure out, how to allay some of the fears about data moving through” the U.S. One solution, the report states, is to provide “private clouds” for businesses.

Sir Martin Sorrell, founder of the world’s largest marketing services firm, said the revelations about the NSA programs are a “game changer” and will act as a catalyst for a altering people’s views of privacy, according to The Guardian. “I think even amongst under-35s, people will become very concerned about privacy,” he said. “It is going to get aired I think quite extensively publicly. I think it is a matter of great public interest.”

Will This Prompt an EU Data Protection Rewrite?

Several members of the European Parliament have moved to reinstate Article 42—also known as the “anti-FISA clause”—in an attempt to make it more difficult for U.S. government agencies to require European technology and telecommunications companies to hand over user data, Financial Times reports. EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said she does not object to the move, according to EUObserver.

And in the U.S.?

The U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board was slated on Wednesday to meet with NSA representatives, but that meeting was closed to the public. One expert said, “With all the concerns about the need for a debate on the issue of surveillance, this is a great opportunity for them to get involved.”

In a column for The Hill, Center for Democracy & Technology President Leslie Harris and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist teamed up to write about protecting citizens’ privacy in the Digital Age. 

According to a TIME Magazine report, the StopWatching.Us campaign—comprised of 115 organizations—has garnered a slow start thus far. Electronic Frontier Foundation Activism Director Rainey Reitman said the slow start is strategic.

“I think we’ll continue to see a...ramp-up throughout the rest of the week and then early next week,” she said.

Read more by Jedidiah Bracy:
Feds Permit Some National Security Data Requests; Obama Defends Programs
FISA Rulings Put Tech Biz Between Rock and Hard Place; Revelations Continue

EU-U.S. Tensions on the Rise; Some Gov’t-Google Sharing Details Revealed
AUSTRALIA—NSA Leaks Reach Australian Shores


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