Head in the Clouds:A Critical Discourse Analysis of American Cloud Computing and State Surveillance in Post-Snowden Press Coverage

Head in the Clouds:A Critical Discourse Analysis of American Cloud Computing and State Surveillance in Post-Snowden Press Coverage
By Stefan Milosevic - 2014

The National Security Agency (NSA) revelations leaked by Edward Snowden on June 6, 2013 regarding the digital surveillance tactics of the United States government were a series of profoundly disruptive discursive events that signaled an uncomfortably cozy relationship between US technology companies and the US government for the maintenance of US national security. Leaked internal NSA slides revealed a host of domestic and foreign clandestine spying programs, including PRISM and MUSCULAR, which suggested the unscrupulous collection of data from US technology giant Google’s cloud servers and private networks, among other technology companies. Google’s cloud computing services particularly became implicated in a crisis of global proportions, as the technology giant and US technology industry writ large faced a global loss of confidence and future revenue from cloud computing customers unhappy with the implications the NSA revelations had for the security of their personal and corporate data. This paper conducts a multi-layer critical discourse analysis about the effect the NSA revelations had on US cloud computing with a specific focus on Google’s cloud computing services. By focusing on the sociopolitical and economic functions of surveillance as established within surveillance literature, this project examines how the crisis was discursively constructed in order to paint a larger picture about how popular press coverage framed the NSA revelations and the relationship of this rhetoric to the technology companies it implicates.