Saturday | October 21, 2017
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Even Google’s cloud is no match for all-seeing NSA spooks

Every week seems to bring another revelation about the National Security Agency’s global panopticon. And each disclosure makes it harder to extend the agency the kind of trust and latitude good intelligence work requires.

The latest leak is a whopper. According to documents former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden provided to the Washington Post, the NSA has infiltrated the overseas “cloud” networks through which Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc. move their petabytes of data, which includes users’ email. Because the collection is conducted abroad, it’s subject to less oversight than the agency’s previously revealed programs are. The intrusion is all the more curious because the NSA can already access both companies’ accounts under U.S. court supervision.

NSA Director Keith Alexander responded to the revelations tellingly. “We do not have access to Google servers, Yahoo servers,” he said at a Bloomberg Government conference, conveniently eliding exactly what the agency does have access to. That’s the kind of obfuscation the public should no longer tolerate, because the consequences of letting the NSA do whatever it wants are becoming clearer by the day.

Consider just one effect of the steady drip of disclosures: on American businesses. A previously disclosed NSA spying program could cost the U.S. cloud computing industry as much as $35 billion by 2016, according to one estimate. That may seem high — you’d have to believe that companies would be so spooked about surveillance that they’d be willing to forgo the many advantages that U.S. cloud services offer — but it’s looking more realistic by the day.

And the economic damage could soon spread. The NSA’s sno