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How the NSA Revelations Change Data Storage

Last year, Edward Snowden revealed just how deeply the government are monitoring our online activity. This is now having an impact on how businesses are choosing to store their sensitive data, with it having a potentially huge impact on the internet’s future.

A survey was conducted of 1,000 business leaders globally and found that many of them are wondering whether they should continue to use cloud computing for their storage needs.

Storing your data in the cloud means that it is accessible via a network. Although it can be secured, the NSA revelations suggest that the government could access this data if they so desired.

The survey was conducted by NTT Communications and they found that almost 90% of respondents (from France, Germany, Hong Kong, the UK and the US) had changed the way that they use the cloud following the NSA revelations.

The study also discovered that a third of those questioned were going to be moving their data to safer locations and 16% said that they had delayed or cancelled their contracts with cloud service providers.

“Our findings show that the NSA allegations have hardened ICT decision-makers' attitudes towards cloud computing, whether it is modifying procurement policies, scrutinising potential suppliers or taking a heightened interest in where their data is stored,” said Len Padilla, from NTT Communications.

Countries such as Brazil and Germany are encouraging their company’s online traffic to be routed locally. This could be done in many ways, like moving any servers out of the US and holding them in the same country that they operate. This would avoid it travelling through the States, potentially exposing it to the NSA. This could have an impact on large American technology giants, like Microsoft and Google.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, and Eric Schmidt, executive at Google, met American President Barack Obama recently to tell him of their concerns about the commercial impact this government surveillance will have on them.

With American companies beginning to feel the pressure of the revelations, it might see a change in government policy regarding surveillance. Some, however, are not so optimistic.

“The Snowden revelations have led to a paradigm shift in how IT decision-makers buy technology,” said Daniel Castro, a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “Now companies are not just competing on price and quality, they are also competing on geography. This might be the final nail in the coffin for the vision of a global, borderless internet.”

Although many have suspected that the NSA revelations would change the way businesses hold data, this survey is the first piece of evidence that shows it to be true.

This isn’t just going to affect large companies, however. Every single business needs to hold data in some way and even small to medium companies make use of the cloud. Everyone across the board is reconsidering their data storage needs.

“As the US limits its own mass surveillance programmes, US firms will no doubt be asking pointed questions about the continuing surveillance activities of European and other governments,” said Castro.

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