The Price the Innocent Pay for Leaks
Corporate Counsel reported today (August 8, 2013) that the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation published a report claiming that the economic impact of Edward Snowden leaking data he purloined from the NSA will cost the U.S. economy between $22 to $35 billion dollars over the next three years. Reuters reported on August 7, 2013 that testimony in the Bradley Manning sentencing hearings claimed his leaks cost the U.S. military “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Quite a disparity, but logical given the difference in the targets affected. In Manning’s case, he leaked information that while secret and strategic, had no real effect on industy or any position the U.S. held in the world economy. In the case of Snowden, however, his sojourn from China to Russia with a treasure trove of valuable information he disclosed to our global economic competition was only a fraction of the problem. The aftermath of his actions devastated the confidence the world had in the U.S. cloud computing industry, an innocent bystander to the NSA data grab. As the ITIF noted, the U.S. dominates the cloud computing industry, estimated to top $216 billion dollars by 2016. The report suggests that the U.S. must take immediate measures to mitigate against that damage: (1) hasten its declassification of PRISM data and set the record straight and (2) establish international standards for transparency. So the recommendation all comes down to more transparency. While that might be a fine idea, the likelihood of the NSA allowing an open door to knowing what it is doing is about as likely as the 2013 New York Mets winning the World Series (and I’m a die hard Mets fan). It is just not going to happen.
So in the end, the U.S. will abdicate its lead in a critical part of the digital economy as it watches independent companies and their investors see market share fall off a cliff. And even if the ITIF is off a bit, it will most assuredly cost billions for those who had no part in the crimes. If Manning deserves decades behind bars for his disclosure, then Snowden’s sentence if convicted deserves to be far longer than he’ll ever live.
So what’s the point? Before those who support Manning and Snowden and laud organizations like Wikileaks and its leader, Julian Assange, please include in your argument how one justifies the economic harm these two leakers, aided and abetted by Assange, have caused to companies that did nothing wrong and who employ hundreds, if not thousands of people at a time when every job in the U.S. is precious. Manning and Snowden are not wistleblowers. They’re thieves and traitors who have caused severe damage not only to the security apparatus of the U.S. but also to the business community that that built the Internet and now has no recourse.
That’s quite a price to pay so two naive fools, supported by a faux journalist without an ethical backbone, could release to foreign powers confidential information that even by the most liberal perspective included a good deal that should not have been disclosed.
We Expert Doug Wood