PRISM harming US cloud providers' business abroad as contracts cancelled

Europe's digital commissioner Neelie Kroes could be right in guessing that the US government spying program PRISM could have multi-billion euro consequences for US cloud providers.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Leaks by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden about the US spy program PRISM has damaged international business opportunities for US cloud providers and could have an even bigger impact in the future, according to a new survey.

According to the results of a survey by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) of around 500 of its 48,000 members, the harm caused by revelations of the US spy program has already had an impact. The CSA's corporate membership includes most large US software, cloud and security vendors and service providers. 

Of the non-US organisations who participated, 10 percent claimed to have already cancelled a project that would have used a US-based cloud provider while 56 percent said they would be less likely to use a US cloud company in future.

A third of 220 US respondents also believed it is more difficult now to conduct business outside the US following Snowden's revelations. That said, however, 64 percent said it has had no impact.

The results follow speculation in Europe that knowledge of PRISM could likely have a massive impact on US cloud companies.   

Earlier this month the EC's digital chief Neelie Kroes warned that European customers would act "rationally" and turn away from US companies after discovering that information in their control was being shared with intelligence agencies.

"If European cloud customers cannot trust the United States government or their assurances, then maybe they won't trust US cloud providers either. That is my guess. And if I am right then there are multi-billion euro consequences for American companies," she said at the time.

Indeed, some in Europe are looking at the spy campaign as an opportunity to channel business back into Europe. Estonia's president Toomas Hendrik Ilves recently called on Europe to build "its own cloud" and offer citizens of Europe a level of privacy and security he believes does not exist with US firms.

The CSA also quizzed members about what should be done to the US Patriot Act, which enabled the PRISM secret surveillance program through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. While 41 percent believe the act should be repealed, 45 percent said they want it retained but with greater transparency and tighter monitoring.

However, an overwhelming majority at 91 percent said they wanted companies that had been subpoenaed under the Patriot Act to be able to publish summary information about the amount of responses they have made.

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