Surveillance programme to cost US tech firms 'more than $35 billion'

US tech companies are feeling the impact of Edward Snowden's leaks about surveillance programmes in the pockets.

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The tech-focused think tank the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) updated its estimates on the cost of US surveillance programs to the country's businesses.

It's earlier estimate that backlash from the programs would cost US tech companies between US $21.5 billion and $35 billion appears to be low, the think tank said in a new report.

"It has become clear that the US tech economy as a whole, not just the cloud computing sector has under-performed as a result of the Snowden revelations," it said. "Therefore, the economic impact of US surveillance practices will likely far exceed ITIF's initial $35 billion estimate."

In addition to the upcoming Russian regulation, France and Germany are creating their own dedicated national networks, and other countries, including China, Australia and India, have passed data localisation laws, the ITIF report said.

The report featured at a Washington conferce of the Information Technology Industry Council yesterday where Erich Andersen, deputy general counsel at Microsoft, questioned the ITIF's figures. Even before Snowden's leaks, many countries had begun to press for new laws dealing with data security and privacy, and the leaks "galvanised" the debate, he said.

Panel moderator Robert Boorstin, senior vice president at Albright Stonebridge Group, suggested that it's difficult for governments to pass laws that keep up with the constantly changing technology industry.

But Andrea Glorioso, counselor for the digital economy for the European Union's delegation to the US, defended the EU's efforts to protect privacy and pass other consumer-protection regulations.

Some tech companies argue against regulation, saying they want "frictionless innovation," he said. "When you're in a car, friction is a very good thing, because it's what allows you to brake," Glorioso said. "A world without friction is a world in which you just go ahead, and you cannot stop, even when you want to."

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