Edward Snowden recently declared “mission accomplished” in his crusade to change the NSA, although the collateral damage will cost us all in the long run. You could tell by his smug response that he knows what he did has broad consequences. The problem is that the consequences are bigger than he wants to admit and I am sure will he will choose to ignore.
By revealing the secrets of the work the National Security Agency (NSA) does with American technology companies and products, he has created far reaching implications for these companies, ones that will hit the pocketbooks of everyday Americans.
Recently, his documents have revealed the work of NSA’s Tailored Access Organization and what they do to gain access to hard to reach targets by planting backdoors and other items on products shipped to other countries in addition to other NSA activities. He previously detailed what the NSA does secretly with company networks and the acknowledged work with technology companies.
Want a similar situation? Huawei, the Chinese electronics giant closely associated with the Chinese military, has been hit constantly with the allegations of the Chinese planting backdoors in important networking equipment. Huawei recently suggested they may exit the U.S. market for lack of traction due to these concerns. But American companies such as CISCO and Juniper Networks will now feel the pressure in other countries that Huawei was feeling here in the U.S. and unlike Huawei which was rumor and innuendo, Snowden’s disclosures provide a paper trail against our U.S. companies.
The consequences will be for sure; it will be a slow bleed over a long period of time. The price that these hardware and the software companies such as Google and Microsoft will pay for unknowingly and knowingly assisting the NSA will be paid in the international marketplace for a long time. This in turn will trickle down to you and me as the bleed turns into the need to start charging for services that we all enjoy free today or product costs increase causing dips in profitability negatively influencing our retirements as subscribers and contracts dry up and markets decline for U.S. tech products around the world.
Edward Snowden thinks that he made the world better, but due to his narrow minded focus on only the NSA, he will ignore the full cost of his disclosures. Costs that many around the country, and especially in the technology world will pay for, including you and me, even though none of us asked for it.
If Edward Snowden was truly sound in the belief of his mission, he would come to the U.S. and face the music. But since he knows he stole federal property and threatened to dispense of it as blackmail to avoid being caught, his role of a hero will always be tempered by his cowardly behavior. The U.S. should not drop charges against him and he should come back, hold his hands together as he enters the airport, accept arrest and prove to everyone that he is right in the court of law. Avoiding a true showdown, he proves that he knows what he did was wrong and wishes to take the easy way out. He should at least apologize to all of us for making us pay for his crusade.