Civil Liberties

Tech Industry Fears Loss of Trust After NSA Revelations

If they play footsy with the feds, they pay the cost


Silicon Valley worked for years to persuade the public to live their lives online, to trust websites with credit card numbers, clouds with business documents and phones with intimate emails and photos.

Now, thanks in part to Washington, D.C., those confidences are at risk of unraveling — and the tech industry, relatively new to the ways of the Beltway, now finds itself in an uncomfortable spotlight at the center of national politics. …

"It's a classic D.C. sh — storm of the worst kind — nobody can defend themselves because it's all about national security," said a Microsoft executive speaking on condition of anonymity. "When it's over, the best we can hope is that people believe that it's in our interest to protect their data and we do everything we can. Will that be enough? Our word?"

That's the incurable headache Big Tech — and anyone who relies on the Internet for business — woke up to on Friday. With the major companies silent, the megaphone belongs to privacy advocates who have long warned about precisely this situation. And those groups are pouncing on Silicon Valley's long-standing opposition to support legislation limiting what they can do with user data.