Congress, Tech Industry Advocates Weigh Costs of Surveillance Programs

July 23, 2014

Members of Congress and tech industry advocates discussed the impact of surveillance programs on industry credibility at an Internet Caucus meeting Friday.

One threat discussed at the program, “The NSA Surveillance Programs; Assessing the Damages to U.S. Commerce, Confidence and Credibility,” was other countries using the Snowden revelations as an excuse to limit opportunities of U.S. companies abroad.

Stewart Baker of  Steptoe & Johnson LLP said other countries are citing security risks and encouraging stop storage locally and cloud storage in their own country.

Kevin Bankston of the Open Technology Institute, New America Foundation (a civil libertarian perspective) agreed with Baker that some foreign governments are using this as an excuse to preach localism, adding that they are actually potentially infringing on human rights by giving themselves more access and control over their citizens’ data.

Bankston said positive reforms are in the works. The USA Freedom Act which is before Congress addresses many privacy concerns and should be enacted. He also praised amendments that passed regarding backdoor access to data, and the Grayson amendment that would help set encryption standards.

Chris Hopfensperger, of The Software Alliance said a lot can be done on reform to restore confidence of both Americans and other governments:

  • More transparency
  • Accountability
  • ECPA Reform
  • Amendment to the USA Freedom Act
  • Safe-Harbor Reform

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