It’s time for another Free Card Friday! This week we have impact cards about the NSA. This evidence will help you establish important, concrete reasons why NSA surveillance is either good or bad.

 

Since each of these cards deals with global concerns, you might encounter an opponent who says they aren’t relevant to domestic surveillance. However, this is false. All of them are descriptive of NSA activities as a whole. The con evidence is based on the idea that foreign investors and regulators are nervous about doing business with American tech companies because of NSA’s access to data from these companies. The pro evidence argues that, in order to catch terrorists, we must allow NSA to cast as wide of a net as possible. As you can see, both of these concerns have to deal with domestic surveillance.

Pro Evidence:

NSA snooping destroys U.S. tech companies’ ability to compete overseas. This threatens the American economy as a whole.

[Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, House of Representatives R-Wisconsin(5), chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations and primary author of the USA Patriot Act, “The NSA overreach poses a serious threat to our economy,” http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/20/jim-sensenbrenner-nsa-overreach-hurts-business, November 20 2013]

Technology companies revolutionized the global economy by creating an interconnected, high-speed international marketplace.

Internet and telecommunication companies empower businesses to conduct complex transactions and connect with customers, clients and governments across the globe, placing a premium on privacy, accountability and transparency.  These principles are the currency of their success, because as private citizens, we entrust these companies with very personal information.

The overreach by the National Security Agency (NSA) does more than infringe on American civil liberties. It poses a serious threat to our economic vitality. Reports from the business community are clear: indiscriminate collection of data by the NSA damages American companies’ growth, credibility, competitive advantage and bottom line.

US companies seeking to expand to lucrative markets in Europe and Asia will find regulatory environments much less receptive to mergers and acquisitions because of NSA programs. German regulatory officials have made it clear, for instance, that AT&T, a massive American telecommunications company that provided customer telephone numbers to the NSA as ordered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (known as the Fisa court), would undergo intense scrutiny to ensure it complies with German privacy laws before it can acquire a German telecommunications company. This mandate would certainly impede efforts to expand its presence in the region.

Of course, US tech companies do not exist in a vacuum, free from competition. Companies like Google, which exhibit clear dominance in the United States, compete intensely with foreign competitors around the world. American businesses will lose considerable market share if foreign competitors and regulators paint them as pawns of the US intelligence community. Cisco Systems warned that its revenues could fall by as much as 10% because of the level of uncertainty or concerns engendered by NSA operations. Cisco saw its new orders fall by 12% in the developing world, 25% in Brazil and 30% in Russia. This is in contrast to the 8% growth Cisco saw in the previous quarter.

The cloud computing industry will also suffer. Since many industries rely heavily on this technology, any disruption would ripple across all segments of the national economy. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the US cloud computing industry could lose between $22 and $35bn (pdf) over the next three years because of the NSA’s overreach. And smaller cloud service providers that partner with U.S. companies have already cancelled contracts.

 

America needs the NSA now more than ever: terrorist groups today are diffuse and plan to ramp up the number of attacks

[Michael Hirsh, chief correspondent, the National Journal, “The Next Bin Laden,” http://www.nationaljournal.com/magazine/the-next-bin-laden-20131114, November 14 2013]

Ever since the death of Osama bin Laden, President Obama and his senior lieutenants have been telling war-weary Americans that the end of the nation’s longest conflict is within sight. “Core al-Qaida is a shell of its former self,” Obama said in a speech in May. “This war, like all wars, must end.” That was the triumphal tone of last year’s reelection campaign, too.

The truth is much grimmer. Intelligence officials and terrorism experts today believe that the death of bin Laden and the decimation of the Qaida “core” in Pakistan only set the stage for a rebirth of al-Qaida as a global threat. Its tactics have morphed into something more insidious and increasingly dangerous as safe havens multiply in war-torn or failed states—at exactly the moment we are talking about curtailing the National Security Agency’s monitoring capability. And the jihadist who many terrorism experts believe is al-Qaida’s new strategic mastermind, Abu Musab al-Suri (a nom de guerre that means “the Syrian”), has a diametrically different approach that emphasizes quantity over quality. The red-haired, blue-eyed former mechanical engineer was born in Aleppo in 1958 as Mustafa Setmariam Nasar; he has lived in France and Spain. Al-Suri is believed to have helped plan the 2004 train bombings in Madrid and the 2005 bombings in London—and has been called the “Clausewitz” of the new al-Qaida.

Whereas bin Laden preached big dramatic acts directed by him and senior Qaida leaders, al-Suri urges the creation of self-generating cells of lone terrorists or small groups in his 1,600-page Internet manifesto. They are to keep up attacks, like multiplying fleas on a dog that finds itself endlessly distracted—and ultimately dysfunctional. (A classic Western book on guerrilla warfare called The War of the Flea reportedly influenced al-Suri.) The attacks are to culminate, he hopes, in acts using weapons of mass destruction.

Recent terrorist attacks against U.S. targets, from the murderous 2009 spree of Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood to the Boston Marathon bombings last year, suggest that al-Suri’s philosophy dominates al-Qaida’s newly flattened hierarchy. The late Yemeni-American imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who preached this strategy and induced Hasan’s attack, is said to have developed his ideas from al-Suri’s. Meanwhile, with new refuges in North Africa, Syria, and Yemen, jihadists have much more territory from which to hatch plots unmolested.

Yet the politics at home are changing as the threat abroad is growing. The revelations dribbled out by fugitive leaker Edward Snowden have outraged members of Congress and world leaders, including those of close allies such as Germany and France. They say they are aghast at American overreach. Writing in Der Spiegel, Snowden justified himself this way: “Instead of causing damage, the usefulness of the new public knowledge for society is now clear, because reforms to politics, supervision, and laws are being suggested.” Thanks to him, Congress will almost certainly rein in the National Security Agency’s data-trolling methods—though it’s not yet clear how much.

But the agency’s opponents may not realize that the practice they most hope to stop—its seemingly indiscriminate scouring of phone data and emails—is precisely what intelligence officials say they need to detect the kinds of plots al-Suri favors. For the foreseeable future, al-Suri’s approach will mean more terrorist attacks against more targets—albeit with a much lower level of organization and competence. “It’s harder to track. Future attacks against the homeland will be less sophisticated and less lethal, but there’s just going to be more of them,” says Michael Hayden, the former NSA director who steered the agency after 9/11 toward deep dives into Internet and telephonic data. Adds Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, “I think al-Qaida’s capabilities for a strike into the United States are more dangerous and more numerous than before 9/11.” For better or worse, the only hope to track them all is an exceptionally deep, organized, and free-ranging intelligence apparatus, experts say.

Intelligence officials who are well briefed in the technical aspects of NSA surveillance also note that global communications are vastly more complex than they were as recently as 9/11, not just in terms of speed and bandwidth but also in the kinds of digital paths they can take. Messages can travel partly by air and partly by cable, for example, and the NSA must keep up. “If you take the diffuse physical environment [of more failed-state havens] and you layer that with the diffuse communications environment, and then you layer that with the diffuse ideological environment—more lone wolves, for example—that makes for a far more generally dangerous environment,” says a knowledgeable U.S. government official who asked to remain anonymous.

All of which means that despite very legitimate questions about whether the National Security Agency is going beyond what the law and Constitution allow, Americans probably need the NSA now more than ever.

 

Con Evidence:

NSA surveillance programs destroy tech company competitiveness- an estimated minimum of $35 billion will be lost over the next 3 years.

[Tom Gjelten, NPR, “Profit, Not Just Principle, Has Tech Firms Concerned With NSA,” http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/11/20/246232540/profit-not-just-principle-has-tech-firms-concerned-with-nsa, November 20 2013]

Google and five other companies weighed in on the surveillance debate last month, sending a letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, supporting legislation to reform National Security Agency surveillance programs.

Their intervention was in part prompted by the news that the NSA had apparently managed to penetrate some of their data centers in Europe. The companies had previously given the NSA access to some of their users’ data in the United States under court order, but the interception in Europe was done without their knowledge.

The companies now are seeing something that they didn’t see before,” says Robert Boorstin, formerly the policy director at Google. “The intelligence agencies are hacking into them.”

The companies’ concerns, however, are as much about profits as principles. They now have business interests at stake.

“There’s no question that we’ve reached the point where the tech companies are being threatened financially and commercially by what’s happened with the NSA,” Boorstin says.

U.S. tech companies, including Google, are doing more business overseas, and customers in some of those markets are saying the American firms’ associations with NSA surveillance activities will cost the companies some of that business.

At greatest risk are the U.S. companies’ prospects in the delivery of cloud computing services, such as Google’s Gmail or Amazon’s web hosting. Foreign customers of those services have to trust the U.S. companies with their data, and several governments are considering measures that would restrict tech firms in their overseas operations.

“We’re seeing a number of countries saying, ‘U.S. companies are not wanted or potentially not allowed [here],’ ” says Daniel Castro, a senior analyst who has followed the cloud computing industry for the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “Or [the U.S. companies] are going to have a higher cost of doing business than domestic firms.”

In August, Castro released a report suggesting that U.S. tech firms faced revenue losses of $22 billion to $35 billion over the next three years, and that was before the revelations about NSA snooping on data centers in Europe. “I would say that is a minimum rather than a maximum, because that was looking very specifically at cloud computing and taking a rather low-end estimate based on initial data,” he says.

Cloud computing is among the fastest growing parts of the technology industry, and it ranks high in the expansion plans of U.S. tech firms. But the risk to U.S. companies is across the entire tech sector.

“The revelations will be potentially devastating,” Castro says.

 

NSA snooping destroys U.S. tech companies’ ability to compete overseas. This threatens the American economy as a whole.

[Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, House of Representatives R-Wisconsin(5), chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations and primary author of the USA Patriot Act, “The NSA overreach poses a serious threat to our economy,” http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/20/jim-sensenbrenner-nsa-overreach-hurts-business, November 20 2013]

Technology companies revolutionized the global economy by creating an interconnected, high-speed international marketplace.

Internet and telecommunication companies empower businesses to conduct complex transactions and connect with customers, clients and governments across the globe, placing a premium on privacy, accountability and transparency.  These principles are the currency of their success, because as private citizens, we entrust these companies with very personal information.

The overreach by the National Security Agency (NSA) does more than infringe on American civil liberties. It poses a serious threat to our economic vitality. Reports from the business community are clear: indiscriminate collection of data by the NSA damages American companies’ growth, credibility, competitive advantage and bottom line.

US companies seeking to expand to lucrative markets in Europe and Asia will find regulatory environments much less receptive to mergers and acquisitions because of NSA programs. German regulatory officials have made it clear, for instance, that AT&T, a massive American telecommunications company that provided customer telephone numbers to the NSA as ordered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (known as the Fisa court), would undergo intense scrutiny to ensure it complies with German privacy laws before it can acquire a German telecommunications company. This mandate would certainly impede efforts to expand its presence in the region.

Of course, US tech companies do not exist in a vacuum, free from competition. Companies like Google, which exhibit clear dominance in the United States, compete intensely with foreign competitors around the world. American businesses will lose considerable market share if foreign competitors and regulators paint them as pawns of the US intelligence community. Cisco Systems warned that its revenues could fall by as much as 10% because of the level of uncertainty or concerns engendered by NSA operations. Cisco saw its new orders fall by 12% in the developing world, 25% in Brazil and 30% in Russia. This is in contrast to the 8% growth Cisco saw in the previous quarter.

The cloud computing industry will also suffer. Since many industries rely heavily on this technology, any disruption would ripple across all segments of the national economy. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the US cloud computing industry could lose between $22 and $35bn (pdf) over the next three years because of the NSA’s overreach. And smaller cloud service providers that partner with U.S. companies have already cancelled contracts.

 

Now get out there and win some public forum debates!

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