Tim Worstall has an article at the Continental Telegraph in which he points out (quite rightly) that it is certainly preferable for non-state actors (such as Google and Facebook) to be the ones holding vast amounts of personal data for commercial ends rather than state organisations holding it for political and surveillance reasons.
We’re at this stage of digitisation that someone, somewhere, is going to have this information given how much we like using the various digital platforms…So, who do we want to have the power over that information? Ellie is obviously insistent that people engaged in the accumulation of mere filthy lucre shouldn’t be those people. At least not as the ultimate arbiter of what is done with it…A little story, the Germans used Hollerith card machines – supplied by IBM – to tot up the results of the Census in the 1930s. Come the round up to the camps all they had to do was run the cards through again and note who had put “Jew” under religion. So, we’d like the State to have all that power would we? Note whose cards are, quite literally, marked? Myself I’d prefer those who only care about the loot really. Ellie would prefer those who might actually use it.
However right Tim might be in principle, an article in Zerohedge reminds us what we already knew really, that in fact, these tech giants are deep in bed with the NSA and it would be naive in the extreme to imagine that the Feds don’t have wide ranging access to all this information and more:
In 2013, the Washington Post and The Guardian revealed that the NSA has backdoor access to all major Silicon Valley social media firms, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple – all through the notorious PRISM program which began in 2007 under the Protect America Act…Microsoft was the first company to join the PRISM program.
[Klein] learned from a co-worker that similar cabins were being installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego, he said…The split circuits included traffic from peering links connecting to other internet backbone providers, meaning that AT&T was also diverting traffic routed from its network to or from other domestic and international providers, Klein said. -(Quoted from Wired) …”They are collecting everything on everybody,” Klein said.
We hear periodically the government complaining about end to end encryption on WhatsApp for instance. Personally I believe that is just a smokescreen to lure people into a false sense of security, and in reality they can get what ever they want.
Without a warrant because in today’s lovely world of G.W.Bush’s War On Tourism, warrants are so passé…
It’s become a clichè that you don’t write anything on the web that you don’t want the NSA or GCHQ or whoever else to know, and you shouldn’t say it within earshot of your phone, even if it’s switched off.