Revelations of NSA snooping on domestic and out of country targets have put everyone on edge, including heads of state. Earlier this month, the president of Brazil proposed a couple of radical steps to safeguard her country's internet communications from external spying, including building in-country data centers to protect Brazilian data.
If more countries start demanding that their data stays internal, as the EU has already done, it could begin to have an impact on cloud vendors. That could affect you, as they pass on the cost of building these country-specific data centers to all customers.
Al Jazeera reports this isn't just patriotic chest thumping on the part of Brazil. Documents released as part of the Edward Snowden revelations revealed the NSA was monitoring email and phone calls between the Brazilian and Mexican heads of state and other high-level officials. Brazil is apparently mad as hell and they aren't going to take it anymore.
In response, Brazil's president Dilma Roussef has announced plans to build an underground cable between South America and Europe in order to bypass servers in the US that are more likely to be subjected to US prying. The Verge reports she has also proposed a new law that would "force Google, Microsoft, and other US web companies to store data for Brazilian users on servers located within Brazil."
It is this last part in particular which should worry the average IT pro, because if Brazil follows through on this step, it's possible other countries would soon follow. Instead of an open flow of information, data would have to be confined to these in-country clouds. Big companies could afford to open in-country data centers to accommodate the legal requirements of each country, but for smaller companies, possibly using online services like Amazon Web Services as virtual data centers, it could prove more difficult.
That could reduce competition and innovation because there would be less pressure from startups at the bottom pushing the established players at the top. It could also lead to higher prices as these established companies are forced to build and staff in-country data centers. It's likely it would require extensive auditing to prove they are complying with the legal requirements and that the data is staying within the countries according to the letter of the law --and that could prove expensive as well.
The more legal roadblocks that get put up for internet companies trying to do business, the more costly it is likely to be. That's yet another reason why you should be concerned about NSA spying -- it not only violates your constitutional rights, but it could also end up costing you money.
All of this doesn't take into account the fact that even though the Snowden documents have illustrated that there is a lot of domestic spying going on at the NSA, the chief job of the agency is actually to keep an eye on what's going on overseas.
Moving the distribution to a different cable and confining the data to in-country may ironically make it easier for the NSA to do its defined job without spying on US citizens -- although that wouldn't be much comfort to the countries being spied upon.
But in the end, these revelations are bad for business on so many levels. They make individuals, businesses and entire countries uncomfortable and that could have an impact on how we conduct business across the entire internet.
And that's something everyone should be worried about.