The Internet after Snowden

The Internet governance issue is fraught, too. For the past several decades, basic standards and architecture have been managed by a private body known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. But this group, though passionate about privacy, is now seen as U.S.-dominated, and therefore contaminated. An alternative would give more oversight to the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union. The leading candidate to head the ITU next is a Chinese official, Houlin Zhao, the group’s deputy secretary-general.

Protecting data networks may actually be harder in the post-Snowden environment, argued both Europeans and Americans. That’s because sophisticated cyber-protection involves cooperation between agencies such as the NSA (and its foreign counterparts) and private Internet service providers. Such contacts are now anathema.

Another paradox is that indignation about U.S. snooping might make it easier for Russian and Chinese security services to spy on their own people and conduct cyber-espionage. “The Russians and Chinese will talk about sovereignty and non-interference in cyberspace, which is a proxy for their control agenda,” argued one technology expert.