National Security Agency director Keith Alexander offered his resignation in the wake of the initial Edward Snowden leaks last June, but President Obama rejected his offer, reports Siobhan Gorman for The Wall Street Journal. Alexander is still expected to step down in the spring as he had planned to do before the recent controversy.
NSA has been gathering information on Americans
While many people are upset about the revelations that the NSA has been gathering information on Americans, tapping the phones of foreign leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and engaging other forms of mass surveillance, Alexander offered his resignation because of the lapse in security that allowed there to be a leak in the first place, not because of the content of those leaks. There are rumors that he will be replaced by a civilian for the first time in NSA history, but nothing has been officially announced.
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New rules have been instituted to prevent future leaks, but Senator Susan Collins, House Representative Mike Rogers, and others now fear that the regulations go too far and will prevent the NSA from doing its job in the future. As politically uncomfortable as it may be to have the spy agency’s dirty laundry aired in public, it is tasked with conducting espionage for the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, and other major government organizations. The idea that it is only supposed to spy on criminals and terrorists isn’t really accurate.
US tech companies are also feeling the fallout from Snowden’s revelations. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has asked Congress to let it disclose aggregate information on NSA requests, and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) has pointedly said that it has not cooperated with the NSA, both trying to calm clients who are concerned about their privacy online. International corporations are starting to look elsewhere for IT solutions, and while Snowden’s leaks have yet to have a major impact on many companies’ bottom line, it does give room for European or Asian competitors to gain market share.
“It’s not having material impact, but it’s certainly causing people to stop and then rethink decisions. And that is, I think, reflected in our results,” said Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) president of development and sales Robert Lloyd, reports Sreeja VN for International Business Times.