Still, ITIF's Castro believes that policymakers should have learned from past debates, as there is an impending detrimental effect on the tech industry, consumers and businesses today. The ITIF recently issued a study that predicted the NSA's surveillance activities could end up costing the U.S. cloud computing industry between $22 and $25 billion over the next three years.
"There is the potential for a significant impact on the tech sector overall and policy makers [aren't paying nearly] enough attention to this problem; it can't be resolved just by companies," said Castro.
Marathon Consulting's Kingsley agreed, saying the public needs to pay more attention to the issue. And as a solution provider, he said, his company is doing its best to help answer some of the questions that clients have about the NSA leaks.
"Public education and people raising awareness and making an outcry will really change things. Some companies are doing that too, but it's a long, hard battle," he said. "Each person has to question things, do their own research and not take things for granted. That's partly why we are there [as a solution provider] in the first place. You cannot only listen to market speak; people need to question everything."
With so many moving parts, from the steady stream of leaks to the media to new calls for government oversight and fresh cybersecurity legislation, it appears the NSA controversy won't be resolved any time soon. Castro said ultimately the NIST and NSA must be transparent and clear the air by addressing the vulnerabilities introduced in the past and setting standards that will actually be followed so companies aren't selling vulnerable products.
"It's really hard to see where we were going to go from here," said Castro. "We really need to rethink the way these types of decisions are being made. We can't just leave it for the intelligence community to make that decision; there are so many broad impacts for the economy that it needs to become part of public discussion."
PUBLISHED OCT. 10, 2013