Last week I wrote about the high cost of the NSA’s aggressive data-gathering efforts on US-based technology companies. These companies have lost billion-dollar contracts and suffered user exoduses as both corporations and individuals, especially those outside of the US, worry that the NSA has back-door access to their private data. Will these concerns be addressed by the reforms to the NSA announced by President Obama last week?
The Verge offers an in-depth analysis of Obama’s promised reforms with a scorecard measuring the effectiveness of those reforms against the recommendations of the Presidential review panel that were delivered late last year. The Verge grades the proposed NSA reforms using 18 different criteria, and offers the following summary:
President Obama’s new reforms offer some hope, but little change. If, as the President suggested, the most controversial program was the collection of phone records, then today’s news is reassuring. The collection of bulk phone records is on the cusp of real and lasting reforms, far beyond the illusory reforms many were predicting. But for those who were more concerned with the NSA reading emails or monitoring web browsing, the president offered surprisingly little.
In sum, Obama’s proposed reforms may assuage the fears of those worried about the NSA rooting through their call logs, but they do little to address other, and in some cases much deeper, concerns individuals and corporations have about the NSA wiretapping the cloud and using backdoors (some of which they’ve introduced themselves) to compromise private networks.