Cisco chief executive John Chambers has reportedly written to US President Obama, pointing out that the NSA tampering with kit it exports is not likely to result in more customer confidence or higher sales.
The allegation that the NSA intercepts and fiddles with Cisco kit before it can reach offshore customers was raised last week by Edward Snowden's amanuensis Glen Greenwald as he set out to spruik a new tome. Photos of Cisco kit on a workbench somewhere later emerged, giving credence to the story.
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Cisco seems to be taking the story seriously enough that, according to the Financial Times (regwalled) Chambers has picked up a fresh sheet of letterhead and despatched it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with an angry message to the effect that, to quote the pink pages, “if these allegations are true, these actions will undermine confidence in our industry and in the ability of technology companies to deliver products globally.”
Which doesn't sound like a good way to help US outfits score the exports sales so desirable as it climbs slowly out of the ruins of the global financial crisis.
Chambers therefore reportedly calls for a code of conduct to be established to ensure that US spooks don't advance the national interest by harming its economic interests.
The CEO has the high moral ground here. He must also, one imagines, find the latest chapter in the Snowden saga personally galling given Cisco's ongoing financial torpor. It's hard enough selling networking kit against aggressive competitors and the generational threat of software-defined-networking. Being singled out as the NSA's weapon of choice or offshore surveillance therefore won't be at all welcome, never mind helpful. ®