The High Cost of the NSA: Is Reform Coming?

The NSA has been causing technology providers of all stripes  on-premise hardware vendors, cloud application providers, traditional software vendors  no end of headaches as the Snowden revelations continue to pile up. As a recent article by security expert Bruce Schneier outlines, the scale and impact of the NSA surveillance machine is almost beyond comprehension.

Microsoft’s GC, Brad Smith, went so far as to characterize the NSA as an “advanced persistent threat,a industry term usually reserved to refer to sophisticated and malicious hackers backed by a foreign government. The cost to US technology providers of the NSA spying efforts has been estimated by some to be in the billions.

In December technology companies banded together to call for aggressive reform to the NSA, knowing that the stakes are no smaller than their livelihood on the international stage and, potentially, their home turf. The US Commerce Department has also added its support to reform. Obama appears to be listening, and is reportedly set to unveil a set of reforms to the NSA on January 17. Will these reforms be enough for the NSA to regain the trust of technology companies and the public at large? I’ll report back next Monday.

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