Foreign Affairs has a good article that goes into some detail on how the United States’ persistent and indiscriminate violations of privacy are causing more problems for businesses needing to operate within the requirements of international law.
The ECJ’s Safe Harbor ruling has now forced Washington to decide whether it values its unrestricted ability to spy on Europeans more than an open Internet and the economic well-being of powerful U.S. businesses.
The United States faces a profound choice. It can continue to work in a world of blurred lines and unilateral demands, making no concessions on surveillance and denouncing privacy rights as protectionism in disguise. Yet if it does so, it is U.S. companies that will suffer.
Examples like this suggest that the US attitude towards surveillance and privacy is not simply one of ‘playing dumb’ in order to get the desired results, but one of genuine idiocy in the face of compelling evidence that their approach is counterproductive. It’s not just businesses that are suffering, but the actual intelligence-gathering effort itself; Bill Binney, previously technical director at the NSA, has made a compelling case for why the agency is drowning in irrelevant data that prevents them from making important connections until after the fact. If the US wants to get results it will have to behave in accordance with the reality that exists, not the reality they wish existed.
The UK, of course, is always eager to learn from America’s mistakes, and we can look forward to the same sorts of results here. The Netherlands on the other hand has taken a more rational, considered stance (at least for now) by acknowledging the undesirable consequences that necessarily follow the introduction of backdoors into software.