June 8, 2013

GLENN DERENE: Why the NSA Prism Program Could Kill U.S. Tech Companies. “Spying on foreigners could create a terrible blowback to the U.S. economy. Has it really come to this? . . . If you lived in Japan, India, Australia, Mexico, or Brazil, and you used Gmail, or synced your photos through iCloud, or chatted via Skype, how would you feel about that? Let’s say you ran a business in those countries that relied upon information services from a U.S. company. Don’t these revelations make using such a service a business liability? In fact, doesn’t this news make it a national security risk for pretty much any other country to use information services from companies based in the U.S.? How should we expect the rest of the world to react? Here’s a pretty good guess: Other countries will start routing around the U.S. information economy by developing, or even mandating, their own competing services.”

UPDATE: A reader emails: “I’ve been wondering why nobody that I’ve read has connected this to Obama’s high tech campaign that won the election. Who could forget the picture of the crazy looking guy with the big hair,glasses and earrings who worked for Obama?”

MORE: Another reader writes:

I thought I was the only thinking such thoughts. The difference is I have been thinking them since the election and my first thought when I heard about the data sweep was the election. Here is why: The turnouts still make no sense to me. How does someone vote for McCain and not for Romney? I can’t get past that basic question. Since the election we have learned of the high tech wizardry of the Obama campaign, we know there was election fraud, we know Obama was effective in shaping Romney’s image using TV and early ads but I still can’t get past that basic question. So what if in addition to all I have just listed the wizardry was not solely used to predict the election and turn out the vote for Obama? What if data (from NSA or Google or Facebook or Apple) was used to reduce Romney’s turnout by identifying lukewarm voters and shaping social network messages with the intent of getting them to stay home? Not switching them, but just getting them to stay home. If you had enough of the right data for large enough of a population you could swing an election.

But wait there is more: Charles Martin wrote about this a bit, but I also was a volunteer for Romney’s high tech effort to get out the vote called Project Orca . It was such a disaster I have long believed there were several Obama moles on the Orca team and that they sabotaged it. Ok, I didn’t really believe that, but it was the best explanation I could come up with. The revelations in the last week have caused me to reassess and I now believe Orca was hacked. IE cyber sabotage. Which is the simplest explanation for the problems that I know about.

Well, it’s certainly nothing you can dismiss out of hand, at this point.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Chris Jefferson writes:

Please don’t let a former Romney operative blame the NSA or Google for the bill of goods that was sold to the hapless Mitt Romney by a school of K-Street sharks. They never even tested that thing to make sure that it worked.

But they all got paid! With money looted from faithful Romney contributors all over the country.

Orca was a disaster from the word “go”!

Well, that is certainly true.

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