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article imageOp-Ed: Distrust in politicians and silicone valley following NSA leaks

By Eileen Kersey     Sep 15, 2013 in Technology
Whilst many people may have suspected that governments were spying on them online, few in the west could have realised the extent of the surveillance. At least one positive has come out of this sordid affair and that is debate, but at a price — distrust
Mainstream media has had its hands full this week with the Syrian crisis. In a roller-coaster of a news week, military strikes, chemical weapons deals, threats and strange political bedfellows have kept the media absorbed.
Behind the scenes, though, the NSA revelations are not forgotten. They are responsible for an increase in distrust of politicians in the west which has impacted on the Syrian crisis.
Just who supplied and used chemical weapons in an alleged attack on civilians in August remains a mystery. At one time most people would have believed their western government, but not anymore.
NSA disclosures triggered an important spying debate but also put the credibility and honesty of our politicians into question.
It has to be noted that President Putin of Russia was able to utilize this fully this week. US President Obama's credibility was hit by the Snowden affair and subsequent hounding of the whistle-blower and it has not recovered.
Putin has no such problem as Russia remains a restrictive country but in a western democracy we expect more. We are able to call our leaders out when they fail us and regularly do so.
NSA spying revelations, however, opened our eyes to how fragile freedom of speech is in the west.
Taking a hit is the US computer industry as well as our politicians.
Sunday the Guardian asks "Why would you trust US Cloud providers?" Why indeed?
The report opens with 'It's an ill bird," runs the adage, "that fouls its own nest."
Here in the UK we would say don't poop on your own doorstep, or words to that effect.
Earlier NSA revelations showed that Microsoft had collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users' communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company's own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian. That hardly encourages confidence in US domination of the Internet and its silicone valley.
In July it was revealed that Snowden had information which could rock the Obama administration in the US and that situation continues, only at least for now Snowden is safely tucked away in Russia.
UK publication the Guardian was at the heart of revelations made by Snowden, in the UK. Saturday it reported that:
The court that oversees US surveillance has ordered the government to review for declassification a set of secret rulings about the National Security Agency's bulk trawls of Americans' phone records, acknowledging that disclosures by the whistle-blower Edward Snowden had triggered an important public debate.
The Fisa court ordered the Justice Department to identify the court's own rulings after May 2011 that concern a section of the Patriot Act used by the NSA to justify its mass database of American phone data. The ruling was a significant step towards their publication.
It is the second time in a week that a US court has ordered the disclosure of secret intelligence rulings. On Tuesday, a federal court in New York compelled the government to declassify numerous documents that revealed substantial tension between federal authorities and the surveillance court over the years.
On Thursday, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, conceded that the NSA is likely to lose at least some of its broad powers to collect data on Americans.
What about American allies such as Germany, France and the UK? Will their citizens still be classed as fair game?
Is it already too little too late to restore faith in our politicians and save the damaged computer industry of the USA?
Will you ever trust either again?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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