Cooperating with government surveillance programs: good for business?

Do investors think it’s a smart move for companies to cooperate when the U.S. government asks for help collecting information on customers? With the exception of Apple shares, which continued on the downward trajectory they’ve been on for the past few days, shares of most of the other companies — the public ones, at least (sorry, ...

608448_verizon_12.jpg
608448_verizon_12.jpg

Do investors think it's a smart move for companies to cooperate when the U.S. government asks for help collecting information on customers?

With the exception of Apple shares, which continued on the downward trajectory they've been on for the past few days, shares of most of the other companies -- the public ones, at least (sorry, no PalTalk) -- reportedly involved in National Security Agency's PRISM surveillance program were up in early trading on Friday.

At press time, shares of Google, which also owns YouTube, were up more than 9 points, or over 1 percent. Google experienced the biggest jump, but shares of Facebook, Yahoo!, Microsoft (which owns Skype), and AOL were all up slightly on Friday morning. Shares of Verizon -- which reportedly shared information with the NSA through another program -- were down slightly.

Do investors think it’s a smart move for companies to cooperate when the U.S. government asks for help collecting information on customers?

With the exception of Apple shares, which continued on the downward trajectory they’ve been on for the past few days, shares of most of the other companies — the public ones, at least (sorry, no PalTalk) — reportedly involved in National Security Agency’s PRISM surveillance program were up in early trading on Friday.

At press time, shares of Google, which also owns YouTube, were up more than 9 points, or over 1 percent. Google experienced the biggest jump, but shares of Facebook, Yahoo!, Microsoft (which owns Skype), and AOL were all up slightly on Friday morning. Shares of Verizon — which reportedly shared information with the NSA through another program — were down slightly.

Of course, we don’t know exactly what prompted investors to buy up PRISM-linked stocks this morning (the May jobs report may have pushed stocks higher, and the Dow and Nasdaq were each up roughly a percentage point at press time). The increases in share prices were by no means huge, so it’s probably less that the PRISM news prompted a wave of investor enthusiasm and more that traders simply shrugged off the reports.

I’m no savvy tech investor, but my first thoughts on the business repercussions of PRISM were more along the lines of the question Slate‘s Matt Yglesias raised today: Are foreign countries going to be more wary of granting these companies access to their markets amid fears that they’ve effectively been turned into proxy spies for the U.S. government? (It’s worth noting, by the way, that the companies are still vigorously denying that they’re participating in the program.)

But maybe investors know something I don’t. Massive subsidies in the pipeline to help fund Google Glass

Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer is the Europe editor at Foreign Policy. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and Forbes, among other places. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and master’s degrees from Peking University and the London School of Economics. The P.Q. stands for Ping-Quon. Twitter: @APQW

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