Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who went public with the NSA’s clandestine data mining operation, forms part of an increasing crossover between government and private cybersecurity organizations. “As a result of the leaks, politicians are likely to debate the pros and cons of outsourcing sensitive work monitoring online communications and security threats to firms such as Booz Allen, which has close links to the intelligence establishment.” In the last few years, many government-trained security experts have left their posts for consultancy positions at private firms.
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What’s the Big Idea?
Just as President Eisenhower warned that close ties between the military and industrial sector beget unneeded military agression, the rise of private security firms risks a widening surveillance state. And as Snowden has shown, knowledge of classified government operations, when spread across the wide net of private industry, is not easily kept quiet. Still, the private sector may be best equipped to develop the talents of computer programers, who might bulk at the tight-laced atmosphere of government work. “Moreover, if the government wants to continue to benefit from the savvy of its departing cyber-warriors, it can always hire their new firms.”