The international backlash of PRISM

Is it only a matter of time before PRISM is used as an excuse for cyber aggression?

The recent disclosure of top-secret information about the National Security Agency's controversial cyber intelligence program PRISM remains a hot topic for discussion. Here in the United States, 47 senators attended the June 13 briefing by NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and others, including representatives from Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI. Not much new has come out after that briefing, but the polarizing discussion has spread around the globe.

U.S. allies in the U.K. met to discuss this NSA practice. British Foreign Secretary William Hague emphatically stated that all data obtained by the U.K. from the U.S. that involved British citizens was subjected to proper U.K. statutory controls and safeguards. 

Another meeting took place in the European Union that resulted in strong backlash. During that meeting some called for immediate investigations into the matter. Many asked for clarification as to what specific EU data was collected by the NSA. One individual went as far as to state that those companies that provided the NSA EU data or access to data may have violated EU law and that should be pursued. 

The individual went on to add that the EU must make sure the U.S. respects the privacy rights (and laws) of EU citizens. Still others question what type of a partner the United States is when they are spying on EU citizens' communications. 

Edward Snowden revealed documents that detail the eavesdropping on then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's phone calls, and the monitoring of emails and BlackBerry traffic of Russian delegates. This is said to have taken place during the 2009 London G-20 Summit as the foreign dignitaries visited and used the infrastructure of Internet cafés set up specifically for this purpose. It should be noted that the British intelligence service Government Communications Headquarters was named in these monitoring and intercept allegations.

So when President Obama headed to Europe June 17-19 for the G-8 Summit -- where he met with current Russian President Vladimir Putin -- the backlash was almost inevitable. Public dissent was particularly strong in Germany, where politicians are demanding answers as some believe the NSA program possible infringement on the rights of German citizens.

And the United States should probably brace for more. One can easily see how the public disclosure of this controversial program could become the excuse used for monitoring and other acts of cyber aggression that target the United States. It is only a matter of time.