It was intriguing to see the tech community’s response to the NSA information-gathering revelations last week. High drama was the order of the day after The Guardian broke the story of a National Security Agency contractor releasing some strategic, classified PowerPoint slides, then hightailing into the shadows of Hong Kong.
Dozens of NSA, spying and civil liberties stories dominated tech media outlet giants like YCombinator, ZDNet and GigaOM. As you’d expect, talk radio was abuzz with speculation and commentary. High-ranking, prominent politicians were demanding that somebody get to the bottom of it all. It’s the most excitement I’ve seen in tech media in years. In the immortal words of Gomez Addams, “Has the planet gone mad?”
And it’s definitely not over yet. We might see some fallout from the whole affair, when it comes to IT. Will it affect hiring? Will companies still push for new technologies?
InfoWorld pondered the chilling effects of the government agencies and others being able to access not only American citizens’ phone numbers and metadata, but also tons of business information that now resides in the cloud. How many CEOs, CIOs and corporate security officers are just a little bit more anxious about exactly who might be accessing their systems, given the tremendous responsibility (and legal liabilities) they have to protect their customer’s data? This creeping uncertainty is bound to negatively affect IT, particularly cloud computing and mobile technologies, since both are highly dependent on real-time network access.
But wait… On June 13, ZDNet explored how your office will be in the cloud in the next decade. Based on Gartner estimates, the site says that a major shift toward cloud office systems will start in the first half of 2015, with two thirds of workers being on cloud-based productivity packages within 10 years. I’m sure data security people are very happy about that now.
What should we make of the story? ZDNet’s story makes no mention of the NSA spectacle. Could it be that the NSA has something on the writer? Was he asked to scrub mention of the incident from the copy? Sorry, conspiracy theorists, but probably not. In all likelihood, the story was filed a while back and some content management system simply posted it on the scheduled day. For a multitude of reasons, it might not have been edited or updated to reflect current conditions on the ground. Such is the busy newsroom, right?
We might be able to take some comfort in knowing that bureaucracies, such as the big government agencies, are notoriously inefficient, full of endless turf wars and rife with cost-ineffective solutions. Will the NSA or FBI or CIA really get that much out of the 10,000 messages my kids send over their cell phones each month? Maybe a few of these organizations will run out of money before everything gets really spun up. I expect to see shake ups within these organizations as people try to hold onto their jobs, claw their way up the ladder, change alliances and develop new agendas.
In an absurd epiphany, Slashdot’s recent story on NSA hiring and my post on “All The NSA Cares About Is How Well You Know Tech” suggested the possibility of slipping into the cloak and dagger world of spy agencies and top secret organizations.
Maybe the planet isn’t mad, after all. Maybe it’s just me.
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