Cisco CEO Berates Obama for NSA Surveillance

Intercepted packages are opened carefully at the NSA to implant surveillance beacons before being repackaged and sent along to unwitting global customers. (Glenn Greenwald/Nowhere to Hide)

Cisco CEO Berates Obama for NSA Surveillance

'We simply cannot operate this way,' says John Chambers about far-reaching surveillance programs

Following revelations contained in Glenn Greenwald's latest book that the NSA intercepted and installed surveillance spyware on Cisco computers while in transit, the CEO of the computer company has personally interceded, sending President Obama a letter calling for government restraint on its surveillance policies.

"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," said Cisco CEO John Chambers in the letter dated May 15 but first reported Sunday.

Referring to various allegations presented in reports based on documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden about government efforts to create backdoor surveillance channels with global communication networks and inside specific products, Chambers told Obama that such behavior is doing tremendous harm to U.S. companies.

"If these allegations are true," Chambers' letter continued, "these actions will undermine confidence in our industry and in the ability of technology companies to deliver products globally."

As Re/codereports:

Failure to restore and repair that trust, Chambers said, could threaten the evolution of the Internet itself and lead to its fragmentation.

The letter follows a May 13 blog post by Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler saying the NSA had "overreached." Chandler said that Cisco does not cooperate with any government, including the U.S. government, to "weaken our products."

Concern about the aggressive tactics of the NSA have hit Cisco's results, especially in emerging markets like Russia, Brazil and China. When the company reported quarterly earnings last week, it said that orders from emerging countries fell seven percent, and that Brazil, Russia, India, China and Mexico combined for a 13 percent drop. Individually, orders in Brazil fell 27 percent and in Russia, 28 percent.

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