Cisco’s CEO John Chambers has made a personal appeal to President Obama asking that the federal government reign in NSA spying.
In a letter, embedded below, Chambers implores the President to create new standards of conduct for the NSA. The letter was first reported by The Financial Times.
Chambers wrote the letter in response to a photo that went viral last month that reportedly showed the NSA secretly inserting spyware into Cisco routers.
The photo was from a newly revealed NSA document included in Glenn Greenwald’s book “No Place To Hide.” It shows images of the agency intercepting packages of Cisco gear as they are shipped from the manufacturer to a customer to implant bugs, according to Sean Gallagher at Ars Technica.
This is the picture, said to be taken in 2010.
In the letter, Chambers makes it clear that such photos aren’t exactly good for business. He writes:
“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.”
He may have a point. Last week, Cisco reported its quarterly earnings, where orders had fallen off in developing counties, down 7% overall, with the BRIC region (Brazil, Russia, India and China) plus Mexico down 13%, the company reported.
Concerns about the NSA’s aggressive tactics with Cisco gear can’t be helping it make sales in those regions, Recode’s Arik Hesseldahl writes.
Interestingly, Chambers did not blame NSA spying for its trouble in these markets when he talked to Wall Street analysts on the quarterly earnings call. He indicated soft economic conditions was the problem.
There is some irony here. Chambers himself was successful in a similar situation against Cisco’s biggest Chinese competitor, Huawei. He complained that Huawei’s gear had back doors that would allow the Chinese government to spy on U.S. companies. In late 2013, Huawei pulled out of the U.S. market.
Here’s the letter Chambers sent to President Obama.
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