Can Europe Stop the NSA From Peeking?
This past weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel hinted at the possibility of Germany, France and other European Union members being in talks to set up their own European communications network that would differ from the main Internet used world-wide. The end goal would be to allow European communications to pass from contact to contact without going through any technical servers based here in the United States.
Obviously, this is a moved spurred by recent revelations of the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) spying on key European diplomats, including Chancellor Merkel’s personal phone. European officials say they want to ensure the security of communications for all governments and citizens of the E.U., but were they to develop such a network, it would present numerous problems in the realm of digital marketing.
In essence, U.S.-based companies like Facebook and Google would be forced to create entities within the new European firewall in order to be viewed by users in Germany, the U.K., or France. Even native-language news sites, like Germany’s Der Spiegel, would lose social media sharing functionality, as that information still passes through American servers.
We feel while this move would be well-intentioned on Europe’s part, it just isn’t practical in today’s interconnected world online. First off, the cost for American companies to set up spin-off entities within Europe’s new network could far outweigh the benefit of keeping their European users. Multiply that with that fact that if this action was to take place, other areas of the globe probably wouldn’t be far behind. In essence, Facebook and/or Google would end up having to start separate companies, with separate servers in each separate region where required.
Secondly, this action raises all kinds of freedom of speech arguments. For example, if the New York Times were to write an article criticizing policies of a European leader’s domestic policy, and that leader didn’t want his citizens reading the article, theoretically, that article could be blocked from site with Europe’s discussed private network, much like social media sites like Twitter are blocked in countries like Iran to help curb organization of anti-government insurgents.
In our view, the practicality of this becoming a reality is also damaged by the fact that even NSA whistleblower; Edward Snowden feels the NSA would have zero problems gathering information from those private networks.
What’s your reaction to the news of Germany and France discussing their own private internet? Good idea? Bad idea? Possible idea? Let us know in the comments section below.