NSA spying has undermined American foreign policy. It undercut any credibility to push for democratic freedom in repressive regimes, repressive surveillance is growing worldwide as a result.
Schneier, fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School 15 (Bruce, Inc 3/2/15, Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World. P. 106)
In 2010, then secretary of state Hillary Clinton gave a speech declaring Internet freedom a major US foreign policy goal. To this end, the US State Department funds and supports a variety of programs worldwide, working to counter censorship, promote encryption, and enable anonymity, all designed "to ensure that any child, born anywhere in the world, has access to the global Internet as an open platform on which to innovate, learn, organize, and express herself free from undue interference or censorship." This agenda has been torpedoed by the awkward realization that the US and other democratic governments conducted the same types of surveillance they have criticized in more repressive countries.
Those repressive countries are seizing on the opportunity, pointing to US surveillance as a justification for their own more draconian Internet policies: more surveillance, more censorship, and a more isolationist Internet that gives individual countries more control over what their citizens see and say. For example, one of the defenses the government of Egypt offered for its plans to monitor social media was that "the US listens in to phone calls, and supervises anyone who could threaten its national security." Indians are worried that their government will cite the US's actions to justify surveillance in that country. Both China and Russia publicly called out US hypocrisy.
This affects Internet freedom worldwide. Historically, Internet governance—what little there was—was largely left to the United States, because everyone more or less believed that we were working for the security of the Internet instead of against it. But now that the US has lost much of its credibility, Internet governance is in turmoil. Many of the regulatory bodies that influence the Internet are trying to figure out what sort of leadership model to adopt. Older international standards organizations like the International Telecommunications Union are trying to increase their influence in Internet governance and develop a more nationalist set of rules.
This is the cyber sovereignty movement, and it threatens to fundamentally fragment the Internet. It's not new, but it has been given an enormous boost from the revelations of NSA spying. Countries like Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia are pushing for much more autonomous control over the portions of the Internet within their borders.
That, in short, would be a disaster. The Internet is fundamentally a global platform. While countries continue to censor and control, today people in repressive regimes can still read information from and exchange ideas with the rest of the world. Internet freedom is a human rights issue, and one that the US should support.
1AC – Internet Freedom
Further, this hypocrisy has created the conditions that will accelerate the global rise of authoritarianism.
Chenoweth & Stephan, political scientist at the University of Denver & Senior Policy Fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, 2015 (Erica,.& Maria J, , 7-7-2015, "How Can States and Non-State Actors Respond to Authoritarian Resurgence?," Political Violence @ a Glance, http://politicalviolenceataglance.org/2015/07/07/how-can-states-and-non-state-actors-respond-to-authoritarian-resurgence/
Chenoweth: Why is authoritarianism making a comeback?
Stephan: There’s obviously no single answer to this. But part of the answer is that democracy is losing its allure in parts of the world. When people don’t see the economic and governance benefits of democratic transitions, they lose hope. Then there’s the compelling “stability first” argument. Regimes around the world, including China and Russia, have readily cited the “chaos” of the Arab Spring to justify heavy-handed policies and consolidating their grip on power. The “color revolutions” that toppled autocratic regimes in Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine inspired similar dictatorial retrenchment.
There is nothing new about authoritarian regimes adapting to changing circumstances. Their resilience is reinforced by a combination of violent and non-coercive measures. But authoritarian paranoia seems to have grown more piqued over the past decade. Regimes have figured out that “people power” endangers their grip on power and they are cracking down. There’s no better evidence of the effectiveness of civil resistance than the measures that governments take to suppress it—something you detail in your chapter from my new book.
Finally, and importantly, democracy in this country and elsewhere has taken a hit lately. Authoritarian regimes mockingly cite images of torture, mass surveillance, and the catering to the radical fringes happening in the US political system to refute pressures to democratize themselves. The financial crisis here and in Europe did not inspire much confidence in democracy and we are seeing political extremism on the rise in places like Greece and Hungary. Here in the US we need to get our own house in order if we hope to inspire confidence in democracy abroad.
1AC – Internet Freedom
American surveillance is the primary driver behind this authoritarian acceleration. Curtailing the surveillance of the NSA is necessary to restore US credibility.
Jackson, M.A. from the University of Chicago’s Committee on International Relations 2015 (Dean, 7-14-2015, "The Authoritarian Surge into Cyberspace," International Forum For Democratic Studies, http://www.resurgentdictatorship.org/the-authoritarian-surge-into-cyberspace/)
This still leaves open the question of what is driving authoritarian innovation in cyberspace. Deibert identifies increased government emphasis on cybersecurity as one driver: cybercrime and terrorism are serious concerns, and governments have a legitimate interest in combatting them. Unfortunately, when democratic governments use mass surveillance and other tools to police cyberspace, it can have the effect of providing cover for authoritarian regimes to use similar techniques for repressive purposes—especially, as Deibert notes, since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosure of US mass surveillance programs.
Second, Deibert observes that authoritarian demand for cybersecurity technology is often met by private firms based in the democratic world—a group that Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls the “Corporate Enemies of the Internet.” Hacking Team, an Italian firm mentioned in the RSF report, is just one example: The Guardian reports that leaked internal documents suggest Hacking Team’s clients include the governments of “Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.” Deibert writes that “in a world where ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Big Data’ share so many of the same needs, the political economy of cybersecurity must be singled out as a major driver of resurgent authoritarianism in cyberspace.”
Given these powerful forces, it will be difficult to reverse the authoritarian surge in cyberspace. Deibert offers some possible solutions: for starters, he writes that the “political economy of cybersecurity” can be altered through stronger export controls, “smart sanctions,” and a monitoring system to detect abuses. Further, he recommends that cybersecurity trade fairs open their doors to civil society watchdogs who can help hold governments and the private sector accountable.
Similarly, Deibert suggests that opening regional cybersecurity initiatives to civil society participation could mitigate violations of user rights. This might seem unlikely to occur within some authoritarian-led intergovernmental organizations, but setting a normative expectation of civil society participation might help discredit the efforts of bad actors.
Deibert concludes with a final recommendation that society develop “models of cyberspace security that can show us how to prevent disruptions or threats to life and property without sacrificing liberties and rights.” This might restore democratic states to the moral high ground and remove oppressive regimes’ rhetorical cover, but developing such models will require confronting powerful vested interests and seriously examining the tradeoff between cybersecurity and Internet freedom. Doing so would be worth it: the Internet is far too important to cede to authoritarian control.