While some individuals still believe that the NSA’s primary target was terrorism, thousands of non-U.S. corporations have gauged that the agency was actually going after their trade secrets and proprietary data. Their suspicion will cost between $30 and $50 billion in lost business opportunities in the U.S. cloud computing industry alone. Tech giant Google, committed to a grand strategy aimed at becoming the Internet’s universal utility, has recently witnessed an epic reversal of public opinion. In the pre-Snowden era, Google Glass was just an awesome device. In 2014, Google Glass is a business risk. In the pre-Snowden era, Amazon’s delivery drones would have been yet another ‘game-changing’ innovation. In 2014, they’re just a scary idea. Google’s incursion into military contracting via the firm’s acquisition of Boston Dynamics will predictably generate bad press – a pattern illustrated in my empirical research on diversification in the global arms industry. And the same may hold true for Amazon, which has recently become a major contractor for the CIA. And while many used to believe that wearables and the ‘Internet of Things’ would elegantly solve some of today’s societal issues, it has now become clear that they will also be part of tomorrow’s problems.
Look at the big picture: A ‘traitor’ named ‘person of the year’? Leftists allying with right-wing hardliners? Western advocates of civil liberties turning to the private sector to defend constitutional freedoms? Government destroying billions of dollars of value, and hurting its own national champions? Was capitalism just turned upside down? No, it wasn’t. In fact, this is merely history repeating.