US: NSA leaks should be no excuse for local storage mandates, which harm “organic” internet

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The U.S. State Department has warned against countries such as Russia forcing web service providers to store citizens’ data locally, even though such moves are at least in part inspired by Edward Snowden’s revelations of the NSA spying on foreigners’ personal data.

“[People should not] use the Snowden revelations as an excuse for taking what are essentially protectionist measures that will harm the ability of the internet to work in an organic way,” a State Department official said Thursday, ahead of the annual Internet Governance Forum meeting in Istanbul next week.

Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a law in July that mandates local storage, paving the way for the blockage of web services that do not comply. Firms such as Facebook and Twitter do not store Russians’ data in Russia, and the law may well be a precursor to the censorship of such services — especially in the context of Putin’s wider crackdown on free speech.

Although censorship may be the ultimate goal, the law was also very much a reaction to the Snowden revelations, particularly the early ones regarding the PRISM program – said to involve the U.S. intelligence services forcing the likes of Google and Facebook to cough up user information. Foreigners are particularly vulnerable to such programs, as U.S. laws afford them fewer privacy protections than those granted to American citizens.

The move also followed calls by Russian intelligence services to boost data center security there, through physical measures as well as the use of “certified encryption algorithms” developed in Russia — a suspicious desire on the part of the spooks if I ever saw one.

Brazil also contemplated a local storage mandate when it was formulating its bill of online rights, but dropped that contentious element in order to pass the wider legislation. There was also talk soon after the Snowden leaks of countries like Brazil and Germany keeping internet traffic within their borders — a very tall order — but thankfully things have gone quiet on that front.

The State Department official also talked up the U.S.’s desire to promote cybersecurity around the world but, when asked whether the country would pledge to no longer launch cyberattacks of its own, said: “Just so there’s no misunderstanding here, I was talking about folks who were hacking to do malicious damage to businesses.”

3 Comments

Kevin OConnor

Much as I honestly believe Vladimir Putin is creating another russian dictatorship , USA is not the answer to the problem. They’re bleating is little more than endlessly repeating “Awww….don’t remove all our bugs , we worked hard to spy on you like this !!!!”

I have no sympathy for them.

NoPowerHere

“Just so there’s no misunderstanding here, I was talking about folks who were hacking to do malicious damage to businesses.”

Businesses like Petrobras? Oh, you meant American businesses. WTH is “organic” internet anyway? Is that like organic chips?

Patrick Durusau

The United State government (aka NSA) should have realized the potential harm to the Cloud before it began abusing it. Current projects put the Cloud into the top 50 countries by GDP by 2017. Why risk such an economic opportunity on vacuum-based intelligence? (in both senses)

Private industry and governments interested in economic opportunities for their people should build a wall around the Cloud that keeps it free from government intrusion/surveillance. Whether by legal process or otherwise.

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