The i2Coalition has been at the forefront calling for greater transparency and privacy protections concerning the U.S. government’s surveillance activities. The likely economic impacts from the government’s program have yet to be fully realized though estimates already predict a $35 billion loss in revenue over the next three years for the U.S. cloud computing industry. It is critical for leaders to recognize the damage caused by the PRISM surveillance revelations and take steps to ensure the practices are corrected.
Today, the i2Coalition is submitting public comments to the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies urging that they take the following steps to protect Cloud consumer confidence while preserving national security:
i2Coalition has repeatedly called for greater transparency and appropriate privacy protection when it comes to our nation’s intelligence gathering. Equipping the American public with the information they need to have an informed, transparent discussion about the merits of domestic surveillance is essential in striking a balance between National Security issues and concerns about the privacy of American citizens.
Senator Franken, Representative Lofgren and others have submitted legislation to address these issues. The Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013 would improve government reporting and allow voluntary disclosures of certain information related to data collection requests from the government. This legislation would require the government to annually report the number of FISC orders issued under sections 214 and 215 of the PATRIOT Act and section 702 of the FISA, as well as other information related to such queries. In addition, it would allow companies to voluntarily disclose the number of orders they have received and complied with, the general categories this information fell under and the number of users whose information was produced to comply. This will let the American public take part in a robust and informed debate about domestic surveillance while also protecting national security, and the i2Coalition urges this panel to put forth similar common-sense conclusions to increase transparency and protect privacy when it comes to the NSA’s intelligence gathering.
The Internet infrastructure industry generated an estimated direct and indirect $46 billion in annual revenue in 2010 with expected 20% growth by 2013, and a trade flow to the United States of $9.2 billion. While we must continue to respect the need for accurate intelligence to safeguard our nation’s security, we also need the opportunity for an open, robust discussion of how to do so while respecting personal privacy and Internet freedom. For our industry to continue to compete in a global economy, we need to ensure that U.S. Internet companies have a seat at the table when discussing issues of electronic surveillance.
INTERNATIONAL PRIVACY NORMS
American cloud companies have for years been at the forefront of the global cloud computing market, but if something is not done to allay concerns over bulk collection of electronic data, non-U.S. companies will surely look elsewhere for their needs. European cloud computing companies eager to break into the international market have been quick to capitalize on the shortcomings of U.S. privacy laws, urging local companies to store their data close by, away from American servers.
Realigning U.S. surveillance policy to comply with established international privacy norms will help restore global confidence in American Internet companies whose competitiveness abroad diminishes with every new report of unjustified U.S. government intrusions on consumer privacy.
Click here to view the entire letter [PDF].