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The Spy vs. Spy scenario sparked by disclosures of National Security Agency’s data gathering practices continued late last week with news in The Washington Post that Google is encrypting user data flowing between its data centers to protect it from further incursions. Two weeks ago Google announced that it was adding server-side encryption to its cloud storage but this appears to be an application of data encryption in transit, another part of the data protection puzzle.
That doesn’t mean that Google, (or Microsoft(s msft) or Facebook(s fb) or Yahoo (s yhoo)) or the other companies that have been named as data sources by former NSA operative Edward Snowden, won’t still have to comply with legal requests for information but it will raise the bar making it more difficult for any party — a government agency or a hacker — to conduct wide-spread data surveillance.
“It’s an arms race …We see these government agencies as among the most skilled players in this game.” Eric Grosse, VP for security engineering at Google told the Post.
U.S. tech giants are now in an increasingly uncomfortable situation, caught between a government asserting its need for information to thwart future terror attacks and consumers who may understand that need but also resent the lack of transparency around this program and fear its abuses. Meanwhile, non-U.S. tech companies will try to turn this fear to their advantage, although frankly it’s unclear if any major tech vendors anywhere are immune from the data dragnet.
Look for more pundits to push the adoption of open-source alternatives like Mailpile email to big-vendor offerings to foil data scooping. Make no mistake, this will be a hot topic at next week’s Structure:Europe event in London.
And now, the gratuitous podcast plug:
If you are one of the 2 or 3 people who haven’t heard Box CEO Aaron Levie expound on the state of the industry, treat yourself to last week’s Structure Show. Seriously, the guy should have a show of his own.
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