NSA reform died in the U.S. Senate two weeks after the 2014 midterm election. The lame duck Democratic majority and Libertarian minded Republicans produced 58 of the 60 votes needed, agonizingly close to collaring an agency that has clearly run amuck. This seeming ideological dividing line is a bit puzzling, given the broader effects Snowden‘s revelations have had on the U.S. defense industry.
Brazil was in the market for 108 new fighters, a $6.6 billion expenditure that would have greatly benefited Boeing, which is struggling to keep the F/A-18 Super Hornet production line open long enough to benefit from the anticipated cuts to the overall F-35 Lightning II production. Dismissed from competition for this sizable foreign lifeline, Boeing is left scrambling to close on one of the Navy’s unfunded priorities – a perceived need for twenty two of the EA-18G Growler, a proven electronic warfare platform. The F-35C, which made its first arrested carrier landing just three weeks ago, is too new to have been adapted for this role, which is typically delegated to attack aircraft later in their life cycle.
Overall U.S. vendors from hardware to cloud services are taking steps to ensure they are not perceived as complicit in the NSA’s dragnet. Apple’s latest version of OSX comes with disk encryption by default and both Apple and Google’s mobile OS also now offer encryption by default. A thousand less notable events like these all add up to an industry wide resource exhaustion attack on the crypto cracking capabilities of that new NSA datacenter in Magna, and the Utah legislature staged a frontal attack by attempting to cut off the facility’s access to cooling water.
Also read: Freedom Act Fails to Pass Senate
Measuring The Changes Caused By Snowden
The Centre for International Governance Innovation surveyed twenty four countries over the last month, measuring the effect of Snowden’s revelations.
Two out of three people are more concerned about privacy than they were a year ago. Three out of five have heard of Snowden, but only about one of those three have taken additional steps to secure themselves. The graph of respondents who trust the U.S. Government to be involved in the operation of the internet is a source of amusement; countries famous for corruption such as Nigeria and Pakistan don’t seem to care, while the 8% trust rating from Americans is half the approval rating this country gives to the Congress that failed to curb the NSA’s surveillance gone wild.
The four year anniversary of Arab Spring’s inception is three weeks away, and the changed expectations in Africa and the Mideast are clearly visible. 72% of respondents strongly believe that affordable internet access is a basic human right, a ringing endorsement of the need for free speech. Egypt, Pakistan, and Turkey all registered support in excess of 70%, and the other Muslim majority country, Indonesia, came in with 56%, presumably a reflection on the relative peace they experience compared to the other three.
Project Chanology in 2008, Arab Spring in 2010, Occupy Wall Street in 2011/2012, Hong Kong’s Umbrella revolution, and the current wave of protests regarding the death of Michael Brown are all things that would not have happened without affordable internet access. There have already been political, economic, and social changes thanks to Snowden’s revelations. A second NSA leaker was recently caught, and they are going to keep coming until this fall’s narrowly averted reform becomes a reality.
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Images from CIGI and Shutterstock.