On Thursday, Gartner analyst Arabella Hallawell published an advisory on the company's Web site that warned multi-national companies to expect a customer backlash regardless of whether or not the accused companies are found guilty of passing on telephone records to the NSA.
"The as-yet-unconfirmed reports of major telecommunications providers allegedly providing a US intelligence agency with huge amounts of information about their customers' telephone usage -- seemingly without court orders or other legal authorisation -- raise serious questions about risk exposure for businesses that use US service providers," said Hallawell in the advisory.
According to Hallawell, it doesn't matter if the reports turn out to be true because partners and customers will be concerned about the privacy of records stored in the US.
"Whether or not these reports are determined to be factual, businesses with both domestic and international employees and customers ... should expect heightened sensitivity about the way they use telecommunications, Internet and other communications service providers in the United States, and be prepared to answer questions about their use of US providers," wrote Hallawell.
Gartner recommends that companies ensure they have a "clear understanding of the data interception practices" where they do business and "Determine whether alternative hosting locations are available for EU or Canadian personal data or e-mail, Internet traffic and other communications".
In addition, companies should "prepare contingency plans for moving such data to alternative locations if it becomes necessary due to regulatory or customer demands".