Maybe Edward Snowden Works for Google, or Facebook, or Microsoft, or One of those Guys

Ok, probably not. 

But consider who benefits from all the attention the NSA thing is getting.  Answer: all those other organizations that collect information about you.  We discussed this previously here at Big Data and the Law.  The NSA gets some of its information from those folks – in fact the NSA has gotten information from all of these folks:

Microsoft – Yahoo – Google – Facebook – PalTalk – AOL – Skype – YouTube – Apple

Some of them have joined the protest against the NSA.  We here at Big Data and the Law would never question their motives.  But, for the time being the focus on the NSA seems to have taken attention away from them.  So they are benefitting.

Let’s consider what we’re ignoring while there is such an all-consuming focus on the NSA.

Well first of all, our friends in the private sector continue to collect lots of information about us.  Sometimes we agree to give it to them. 

We don’t always want to volunteer our information.  But in some cases our choice is to agree to give up personal information or lose access to technology we want or need.  Sometimes we have to participate in social media (with the consequent need to disclose some of our personal information) or lose timely access to financial information that might affect our investments.

Sometimes our information it collected without any participation from us.  By these guys for example.

There is another way in which our information can be obtained without or disclosing it.  Information that we did not disclose can be discovered through the analysis of information that we did disclose.

And what about the things that are being done with our information? 

No doubt we don’t really know what the NSA does with the information that it gathers.  But, what about the uses of our information that we  do know about and that should also be concerning to us? 

For example, what about using our on-line information in hiring decisions?

Questions about collection, and questions about use. 

What else are we ignoring?

Well one big thing we seem to be ignoring is the exposure of our information to data breaches.  For example, the very concerning data breach at Facebook

And what about public entities other than the NSA?  What about countries other than the United States?

For some reason we seem to have forgotten that the United States is not the only country that gathers personal information. 

Consider this from a former French foreign minister:

“The magnitude of the eavesdropping is what shocked us,” Bernard Kouchner said Tuesday in a radio interview. “Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop too. Everyone is listening to everyone else. But we don’t have the same means as the United States, which makes us jealous. “

We don’t mean to pick on France.  As the man said, “Everyone is listening to everyone else.”  Russia, for example, is expanding Internet surveillance even though many think that new surveillance is not legal under Russian law. 

This week we had “The Day We Fight Back”.  That’s fine. 

We here at Big Data and the Law don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade.  If you have a problem with what the NSA is doing, there is no reason why you shouldn’t make an issue of it. 

But why is it that “The Day We Fight Back” seemed to be focused on only the United States?    Wrong is wrong – yes? 

Protest is easy.  It’s harder reach agreement on some principles and to apply them generally – to both the private sector and to the public sector – and to all governments.  Objective principles – not subjective principles.

One more thing.

Let’s look at ourselves a little.  It’s not only business and government that collects information without the consent of those from whom it is collected.  Sometimes its individuals acting on their own.   

We haven’t heard anything about that yet.

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