Box CEO Aaron Levie Calls Alleged NSA Spying ‘Inappropriate’

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Box CEO calls for more transparency in government surveillance and says country-specific networks are a bad idea

Box CEO Aaron Levie has called the National Security Agency’s alleged spying activities as “incredibly bad and inappropriate” and has called for more transparency regarding the agency’s surveillance programmes.

Speaking at the cloud specialist’s Business without Boundaries (BWB) event in London, Levie said that as a citizen of the US, he felt he did not have enough knowledge about what was happening.

“There’s no way things can be maintained the way there are now,” he told a press round table. “There has to be far more visibility.”

Open Internet

Boxworks 2013 Aaron LevieHowever he was confident that any alleged surveillance program would have a minimal impact on Box, because terrorists are more likely to use a consumer platform like Skype in preference to an enterprise-focused service like Box.

In the wake of leaks from Edward Snowden about government snooping, organisations such as Deutsche Telekom have suggested country-specific networks that would require all Internet companies to store data in the same national jurisdiction.

However Levie has declared that such a solution would be impractical and would go against the open nature of the Internet.

“The enterprises we work with don’t see their world as their country or region,” he said. “We want to make sure the Internet stays open.”

Impractical solutions

Box has no intention of prioritising regions because of their privacy requirements, said Levie. Although Box differentiated itself from its competition by going further in terms of local regulation compliance, he said there was no feasible way to have a data centre in every single country.

Levie said Box might use data centres in Europe as the business continues to expand in order to improve performance, but such a measure was a few years away. However he acknowledged the impact that alleged spying schemes have had on the US’ reputation and how some people were wary of storing their data in the country.

“For customers who are already reluctant about the cloud, it gives them another reason to be reluctant,” he said.

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