Cisco CEO asks Obama to curb NSA surveillance as a matter of ‘trust’

BY Justin Scuiletti  May 19, 2014 at 12:38 PM EST
Cisco Chambers to POTUS 2014_05_15.pdf

National Security Agency surveillance is undermining U.S. technology sales, claims the CEO of networking giant Cisco.

John Chambers, in a letter dated May 15, wrote to President Barack Obama that the United States benefited economically because of the confidence of the “open, global Internet” and that said confidence was diminished due to allegations that “governments exploit rather than report security vulnerabilities.” If the allegations were true, he writes, it would impact global sales of all U.S. networking technology.

One of the allegations that Chambers cites is a series of pictures that reportedly show Cisco routers being modified in an NSA factory after being intercepted during shipment.

Chambers called on the president to curb further surveillance practices in order to prevent the impairment of the United States’ “global technological leadership.”

We simply cannot operate this way, our customers trust us to be able to deliver to their doorsteps products that meet the highest standards of integrity and security. That is why we need standards of conduct, or a new set or ‘rules of the road,’ to ensure that appropriate safeguards and limits exist that serve national security objectives, while at the same time meet the needs of global commerce. We understand the real and significant threats that exist in this world, but we must also respect the industry’s relationship of trust with our customers.

Cisco is not the first U.S. tech company to call for a change in the NSA’s practices. In December, tech giants AOL, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo banded together to call for a reformation of global government surveillance.