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NSA Backdoors Could Cost US Companies Billions in Business Abroad

NSA Backdoors Could Cost US Companies Billions in Business Abroad

Today in international tech news: NSA "backdoors" could hurt U.S. telecommunications firms abroad. Also: Europe vows to crack down on roaming fees; Facebook has a chat in China; North Korea suspected of massive cyberespionage; and almost 25 percent of all UK downloads are pirated.

The National Security Agency's efforts to include "backdoors" in U.S. companies' security products, networks and devices -- thereby making it easier for the NSA to snoop around -- could hurt business abroad.

Specifically, foreign countries could come to view U.S. firms' relationship with Washington much the same way that the U.S. views Chinese companies' relationship with Beijing, Bloomberg said -- that is, too close for comfort. Last year, Congress announced that Huawei and ZTE, two large Chinese telecoms, should not be allowed to build U.S. networks for fear that they would dish secrets to the government.

One of the more alarmist quotes from the Bloomberg article was given by San Jose-based technology analyst Rob Enderle, who said, "The National Security Agency will kill the U.S. technology industry singlehandedly."

Forrester Research hypothesized that NSA disclosures could cost U.S. tech companies US$180 billion by 2016. That amounts to 25 percent of IT services.

[Source: Bloomberg]

Europe to Crack Down on Roaming Fees

In his State of the Union address Wednesday, European Commission president Josť Manuel Barroso said he wants to put an end to high fees for making mobile calls across national borders.

As antipathy toward the European Union heightens in the Netherlands, France, the UK and elsewhere, lower mobile fees are almost unanimously supported throughout the 28-nation bloc. Thus did Barroso say he supports a plan that would weed out roaming fees starting in 2014.

Many European companies, however, have spoken out against the EC's proposal, claiming it would erode revenue. Others in the telecom industry have said that the overhaul should come in the form of increased investment, not reduced fees.

[Source: The New York Times]

Facebook COO Schmoozes in China

Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, met with Cai Mingzhao, the director of China's State Council Information Office & State Internet Information Office.

The meeting, announced by the Office's website, included talks about how Facebook could be a tool for Chinese enterprises to expand overseas.

Facebook is currently blocked in China, where domestic equivalent Renren rules the day.

[Sources: Chinese Government via TechNode.com and Tech In Asia]

North Korea Suspected of Cyberespionage

Experts at security outfit Kaspersky Lab are blaming North Korea for a cyberespionage campaign against South Korea.

The campaign reportedly went after highly classified intelligence on defense and security by targeting the ministry of unification and a handful of Seoul thinktanks.

The Korean Information Security Agency reportedly forked over loads of information to Kaspersky, which says this is the first time it has been able to directly link a cyberattack to North Korea.

Seoul has pointed its finger at North Korea for past cyberattacks, even if hard evidence was lacking; in an incident earlier this year, South Korea said that the use of Chinese servers fit North Korea's M.O.

[Source: The Guardian]

Report: Quarter of UK Downloads Infringe Copyright

Nearly 25 percent of all downloads in the UK infringe copyright, according to a report from Ofcom, an independent regulator for the British communications industry.

A mere 2 percent of UK Internet users downloaded almost 75 percent of all pirated content, the report said, with a small number of individuals qualifying as serial piraters.

Coming in at 35 percent, films were the top form of pirated content.

[Source: BBC]


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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