In early June, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the existence of PRISM. The leaked slides allege that the NSA has direct access to servers belonging to major tech companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft. The companies denied that they gave direct access to the NSA, but many argued that the mere existence of PRISM would hurt the U.S. tech industry.
The Cloud Security Alliance recently released a survey that it conducted among its customers to determine how they felt about the existence of PRISM. The results don't look good for U.S.-based tech companies.
In the first question, the CSA asked its non-U.S. based customers if PRISM had affected their plans to utilize U.S.-based cloud services. Out of the 207 companies that responded, 10 percent said that they have outright canceled plans to use U.S.-based cloud services. An even more worrisome 56 percent say they're less likely to use U.S.-based cloud services.
Later on in the survey, the CSA asks its U.S.-based customers if they feel PRISM will hurt its ability to conduct business overseas. Only 36 percent out of the 220 responders feel that it would make it more difficult to conduct business while 64 percent feel that it will have no effect on their business.
Interestingly enough, 41 percent of 423 respondents feel that the best way to deal with this issue is to repeal the Patriot Act in its entirety. Another 45 percent feel that that the law should be modified to put stricter control on what kind of information the NSA can collect. In a related question, 91 percent of 438 responders feel that tech firms should be able to publish summary information regarding the U.S. government's data requests.
Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and more have all been petitioning the U.S. government to allow them to be more transparent with how it responds to data requests. This survey illustrates that it's not so much about these companies being good corporate citizens, but rather them realizing the secrecy surrounding PRISM can legitimately hurt their businesses. Regardless of how you feel about the value of privacy, the fact of the matter is that many people and small businesses don't want the U.S. government sifting through their data. They will turn to foreign cloud services that don't have any apparent ties to any government instead.
This survey should be a wake up call to the Obama administration. For all his talk about supporting the tech industry, the continued secrecy surrounding the NSA and its spy programs is the largest threat to Silicon Valley's continued prosperity. These companies will continue to bleed customers as long as the government keeps things under wraps.[h/t: The Register]