Reports that the recent NSA PRISM leaks will somehow “kill the cloud,” or at least severely damage American participation in the world market for cloud computing services, grossly hyperbolize the realities of the situation. Although the leaks may have eroded public confidence in data security and privacy to some degree, the move toward cloud computing seems inexorable.
It is a poorly kept secret that nearly all governments spy on both their friends and their adversaries in the world community. Indeed, the UK Government Communications HQ “Tempora” system apparently parallels (and supplements) the U.S. PRISM system, and has done so for more than a dozen years. Tempora may actually ingest more data than PRISM. The “Five Eyes” electronic surveillance alliance (U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) has operated since shortly after World War II. The USA PATRIOT Act, moreover, spawned an array of similar laws in many countries including Canada, Australia, South Africa, the UK, and (most recently) Germany. The NSA leaks could help place new limits on government intelligence programs, but they cannot prevent governments from “doing what they have to do” to protect their citizens.