Thanks to NSA contractor Edward Snowden, we now know, even if we suspect some exaggeration on his part, that the NSA has way more access to our private e-communications than most of us thought they did. As with every issue of the day, folks have lined up on either side of the controversy. Some say this breach of our privacy is the reasonable price we pay to keep ourselves safe. Some say this falls in the category of unlawful search and seizure, treating the innocent citizen like a criminal suspect. Up until now, the NSA has been the focus of public defense or prosecution. I haven’t heard much discussion about two other complicit partners in this emergence of Big Brother.
Verizon et al.
In May of 2012 a New York state court asked the social media micro-blogging site Twitter to hand over the tweets of one of its members. Twitter refused, backed by the ACLU. The NSA cannot amass phone and email records without the cooperation of the carriers such as Verizon. Where is the corporate loyalty to its customers? Where is the concern among these providers that they are violating an implicit trust placed in them by their patrons?
Folks, this smells to me like more than government overreach. This is a nefarious partnership of government and corporate where the little guy, once again, gets screwed. I have commented previously on my disgust at corporate America sitting on trillions of dollars and shipping jobs overseas when they could invest in America and bring down the unemployment rate. This latest development with the NSA is just another nail in the corporate coffin as far as I’m concerned.
The Fault is in Ourselves
Yes my friends, if you want to find another complicit player in this privacy crisis just look in the mirror. Never before has the public embraced a technology so ripe for misuse as we have embraced the Internet over the past 30 years. Has anyone noticed that no one is talking about the NSA opening postal mail, copying it, and then resealing it and sending it on? That’s because it isn’t happening. (Unless of course we are talking about mail sent to the President for example.) The most technically ignorant among us believes that our e-mail goes directly from us to our intended recipient. We don’t even get the notion of downloading mail from a server. Those of us more familiar with the technology don’t seem to care about our correspondence residing on servers that we don’t own or control.
I honestly don’t know what to do about the situation we find ourselves in. We have the perfect storm of a government “doing bad things for good reasons” with the compliance of a corporate infrastructure that doesn’t appear to give a damn about the privacy of its customers with the final ingredient of a populace that is so ensnared in the technology that is now betraying it that it can’t get loose.
I don’t know how we get this genie back in the bottle. I’m open to ideas.