Frmr Sec. Commerce: NSA scandal is a cloud hanging over U.S. businesses

Josh Peterson | Tech Editor

The National Security Agency’s mass surveillance scandal could endanger the intellectual property rights of U.S. businesses abroad, a former Bush Administration cabinet official told a Washington audience Friday.

The fallout against the NSA over its data collection methods has also engulfed U.S. cloud companies implicated by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks to the media.

Carlos Gutierrez, the former Secretary of Commerce under President George W. Bush, warned business leaders and policy advocates on Friday that they need to begin addressing how foreign governments might leverage the NSA scandal in order to steal U.S. businesses’ trade secrets.

Gutierrez’s remarks were part of a keynote address delivered at at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global IP Summit Friday.

“I think you should have talking points, I think you should have a position,” Said Gutierrez.

“If you need to go on the offensive, go on the offensive,” he said, “but that is a cloud hanging over U.S. business and that has set us back.”

Trade associations for the sofware, manufacturing, film, music, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology industries were all represented at the conference.

Gutierrez also emphasized intellectual property rights as the engine for America’s economic success as a nation. He also warned that a far-left agenda was trying to dismantle property rights in America in favor of a system of collective property ownership.

Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in his own address to the audience, said that “IP-intensive industries” “account for nearly 35 percent of total U.S. GDP and support 40 million American jobs.”

Those industries range from music to manufacturing.

“They are responsible for more than 60 percent of all U.S. exports, to the tune of $775 billion,” said Donohue.

“Add it all up, and America’s intellectual property is worth over $5 trillion dollars,” he said.

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