Is there a Snowden effect on American business?
Ever since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed elaborate cooperation between U.S. Internet and telecommunications firms and the nation's intelligence service, Washington has been watching to see whether the companies involved would be hurt.
Cisco this week became the one of the first companies to say publicly that its sales were down as a direct result of the NSA disclosures. The issue is whether overseas clients are reluctant to buy Cisco's telecommunications equipment for fear that the organization would gain access to their systems.
On an investor conference call Wednesday, Benjamin Reitzes of Barclays Capital asked Cisco CEO John Chambers whether the allegations had caused a slump in Cisco's emerging market business, adding, "It is an impact in China."
"I think we're all aware of that." said Robert Lloyd, Cisco's president of development and sales. "It's not having material impact, but it's certainly causing people to stop and then rethink decisions. And that is, I think, reflected in our results."
(Read more: Cramer: 'Open rebellion' among Cisco investors)
Not many tech companies are so publicly connecting the dots between Snowden and sales. A search of this year's Securities and Exchange Commission disclosures for mentions of the "National Security Agency" turns up very few references to a Snowden effect.
One company that did make such a statement is eBay. In an October filing, the online auction site said the Snowden leaks could lead European countries to impose tighter regulations that might harm its business.
"There is significant international pressure against the U.S. and the National Security Agency ... regarding the collection of data by the NSA from U.S. companies," eBay noted among a list of potential business risks. "Further restrictions or regulation in the European Union could result as a direct reaction to these events."
(Read more: Google calls NSA surveillance outrageous)