Countries ranging from France to Finland have started responding to NSA revelations in different ways, ranging from new fiber optic cables to government-backed industrial espionage. By 2015, some European countries will start implementing surveillance programs that go even beyond the NSA — and are explicitly meant to protect not only national security, but also economic interests.
Last week, Europe was rocked by the claim that Sweden has been one of the key allies of NSA in a global surveillance program. Sweden may have tapped into the undersea fiber optic cables running under the Baltic sea to deliver massive amounts of intel about countries across Nordic and Baltic regions. According to Wikileaks, Finland has now committed to building a new fiber optic cable to Germany specifically to prevent Sweden from intercepting data and passing it on to NSA. The project is run by Governia, a state-owned company.
This is just one example of how the NSA revelations are starting to reshape the way countries view their former allies and closest neighbors. During the Cold War, Finland and Sweden used to be tight allies, united by the threat of Soviet Union. The relationship between the countries may be shifting in a meaningful way following recent NSA revelations.
As what is widely regarded as a response to NSA snooping, France is introducing a wide range of email, phone and location data surveillance measures that are meant to not only to protect national security, but also to guard “the economic potential of France.” This, of course, can be interpreted as state-sanctioned industrial espionage.
By 2015, France may be employing a far deeper scope of electronic snooping than even the NSA is currently engaged in. One interesting possible side effect of NSA revelations is that they may have already triggered an arms race of government-backed surveillance measures across the world. A number of countries such as Finland may be attempting to circumvent NSA hotbeds like Sweden, but that seems like a futile effort.
Some will follow France’s example and opt to fight fire with fire. But what will end up getting burnt is any semblance of privacy — anywhere in the world.