Tuesday, 18 November 2014 05:31

SUSE has different take on NSA spying revelations Featured

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The issues that confront technology companies in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations are of concern to SUSE Linux too, but not from the same perspective, according to SUSE global marketing and alliances chief Michael Miller.

Speaking to iTWire ahead of the third SUSECon, the annual conference of the Nuremberg-based SUSE, Miller said it that was increasingly important to customers to know where their data was located.

"We will see that increasingly in the future and we are supportive of it," he said on Monday, a day ahead of the formal beginning of SUSECon which is being held in Orlando, Florida.

Miller agreed that it would set a technology company apart if it could claim that there was no chance of any interference from government as has been shown to occur in the case of the US. Snowden, a contractor for the NSA, fled to Hong Kong, and then Russia, with an enormous trove of classified data which he has been releasing slowly.

His revelations show that the NSA conducts mass surveillance of the American population and that it has been siphoning up data from technology companies like Google, Yahoo!, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and others, both with and without their consent. None of these companies have done anything to change the status quo, despite the fact that it has been more than a year since the first disclosures.

Snowden's revelations have led to a drop in overseas business for at least two technology firms - Cisco and IBM. Additionally, the Boeing company lost an order from Brazil, which opted to go with Sweden's Saab for $US4.5 billion worth of aircraft.

Miller said these days any software deployment was not limited to a single company's products; there would be many different companies involved and hence it would not be possible for a single company to make any claim about the whole operation.

He said the focus of SUSE in recent times had been zero downtime and it had thus been focused in initiatives such as kGraft — which enables the patching of a running kernel — in the release of version 12 of its enterprise Linux distribution.

Miller agreed that if a company was able to say that it was not subject to government surveillance, then that could be a selling point. "We have discussed the Snowden affair internally as a company but I personally have had no discussions with customers about this," he said.

Asked if it would not server as a good marketing tool — at least one Linux company which is not US-based admits this is the case — Miller said SUSE did not believe in sensationalism when it came to marketing.

"The topic (when we talk about data location to customers) is not the NSA< it is the customer's needs," he added.

The writer is attending SUSECon in Orlando, Florida, as a guest of SUSE.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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