“The debate we are having in Congress on the future of government surveillance has focused on the tension between personal privacy and national security. My topic here is to suggest that there is another force at work.
NSA personnel know better than anyone that by far the greatest collector of data on ordinary Americans is not our government, but the private sector entities gathering personal data for marketing and commercial purposes. And the most malevolent threat for an individual American is not our government but the vast armies of hackers—many sponsored by foreign countries—who are constantly trying to steal our personal and financial information. Against these hackers, government is our defense.
And yet, the plainly observable fact to anyone paying attention to the debate we are having in Congress, is that Americans have become more skeptical of government intelligence gathering, while at the same time they willingly accept that corporations learn virtually every detail of their lives. Indeed, some of the most successful internet companies today are really information companies, and the most valuable commodity they possess is data about their customers.”
“In the internet economy, information is everything: the more a company knows about a consumer, the more carefully it can tailor its advertising to that customer, and the more revenue it can generate in return. When Google first launched Gmail, it was considered groundbreaking—in part, because Gmail actually read the content of your email. It did so, not to disclose anything, but to enable Google’s algorithms to identify ads that you would likely be interested in and likely to click on. Since the internet advertising model works on a per-click basis, more clicks means more revenue.
At the time, what Google was doing was considered somewhat controversial. But today, I suspect that most Gmail users have no idea that their communications are constantly being mined for commercially useful clues.”
“Google, of course, is not alone. Facebook has a facial recognition database to identify people in pictures before they identify themselves. It keeps information about users’ on-line purchases to help companies advertise more effectively. More broadly, the data mining business is exploding. And do we really think foreign intelligence services won’t take advantage of this new capability?
Yet we recoil from our American intelligence services taking advantage of technology similar to what we expect foreign intelligence services must do, and what we know private corporations already do.”
Personally I am not a fan of being scanned and mined by anyone (government or private) but, unfortunately, that is also both present day reality and a downside to being part of the technological era. Still, and like I said right up front, I am not taking sides, I just found the article to be a worthwhile read.
Michael A. Haber, P.A. has provided personalized and boutique legal services to both individuals and entities, primarily in the South Florida area, since 1991. With no history of professional discipline whatsoever, Michael A. Haber, Esq. zealously advocates his client’s interests and custom tailors his services to meet each client’s particular situation, needs and desires.
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