Federal interference: international edition

The unanticipated consequences of the NSA’s insane global spying are beginning to bite US corporations in the backside:

Some companies are apparently so concerned about the NSA snooping on their data that they’re requiring – in writing – that their technology suppliers store their data outside the U.S.

In Canada, a pharmaceutical company and government agency have now both added language to that effect to their contracts with suppliers, as did a grocery chain in the U.K., according to J.J. Thompson, chief executive officer of Rook Consulting, an Indianapolis, Indiana-based security-consulting firm. He declined to name the companies, which are using Rook to manage the segmentation and keep the data out of the U.S.

Thompson said the language began appearing in contracts over the past couple weeks, and could be an early indicator of things to come as businesses adapt to a landscape altered by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks. Documents leaked by Snowden indicate that the NSA has tapped fiber-optic cables abroad, circumvented or cracked encryption and is massively collecting telephone records and Internet traffic. Facebook, Google, Apple and Yahoo were among 15 technology companies that asked President Barack Obama Dec. 17 to restrain the spy programs. Cisco said Nov. 13 that NSA spying has caused delays to networking equipment orders.

U.S.-based technology companies face a serious threat. The NSA disclosures may reduce U.S. technology sales overseas by as much as $180 billion, or 25 percent of information technology services, by 2016, according to Forrester Research Inc., a group in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

This isn’t a hypothetical threat. Already funds are indicating that they disdain US owners and startups are building their business models around the assumption that no one outside the USA will want to use software services beholden to the US government. The USA is in the ironic state of professing free trade in goods while laboring hard to ensure that no one wants to utilize its services.

The extent of the effects will take some time to become apparent, but the problem is that once they become clear, there will be no returning from them. I suspect the revelation of the NSA spying, and not the Iraq or Afghanistan invations will one day be seen as the Peak Empire point for the USA.