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Surveillance could hurt American business, Google warns

One of the country's Internet giants has criticized the United States government for its policies regarding Internet surveillance, saying that they could potentially damage the country's entire economy.

While the ripple effects of the Edward Snowden leaks have yet to be fully realized, many feel that they will ultimately be detrimental to the country as a whole. While the fight against terrorism is certainly an important one, it is becoming increasingly clear that this is not the one use of the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance program. Recently, reports were released that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone was tapped under the program – a person who is likely not high on the NSA list of terrorists.

Google expresses concerns for business
A possible repercussion from these government practices could be a fracturing of the Internet. For instance, Reuters reported that Google recently offered public testimony for the first time with regard to the U.S. spying program saying that the open cyberspace could turn into a splinter web that would ultimately hurt American business.

"The current lack of transparency about the nature of government surveillance in democratic countries undermines the freedom and the trust most citizens cherish, it also has a negative impact on our economic growth and security and on the promise of an Internet as a platform for openness and free expression," said the company's Law Enforcement and Information Security Director, Richard Salgado, according to the news source.

One suggested solution would be to increase government transparency about these practices. While it is important to pursue information about potential terrorist attacks, it should not come at the expense of Americans' individual liberties.

A possible solution?
A strategy that has been proposed to address this issues is legislation that makes the U.S. government more open about its surveillance practices. Sen. Al Franken (D-Mich.) is looking to pass the Surveillance Transparency Act which would require the NSA to disclose more information about these policies. It would also permit Internet and phone companies to disclose information about the requests that the government has made.

According to Threat Post, the Senate is debating measures of this nature. Most recently, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law held hearings with lawmakers and technology experts on these practices.

The implications of these programs are multi-layered and complex, making the need for an open and public discussion about these measures essential to ensure that the U.S. economy and private citizens' rights are well protected.

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