Is It Good For Business To Say No To Gov't Requests For Info?

from the people-respect-that dept

Chris Soghoian recently gave a talk where he reminded companies that it actually can be good for business to say “no” when the government comes asking for info. He ran through a variety of scenarios (many covered here on Techdirt) when certain companies stood up to government requests and said no. When the news was later revealed, companies that have stood up to government requests often get very good press, while those who gave in, get really bad press. Of course, I think Chris may be overselling the case here, as it’s not clear that the short burst of good PR from these situations really had a lasting impact. But, it is certainly one reason (among many) that companies shouldn’t just roll over every time the government comes calling.

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Comments on “Is It Good For Business To Say No To Gov't Requests For Info?”

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MarksAngel (profile) says:


I don’t know Mike I think your wrong about it not having a lasting effect. I know I sure haven’t forgotten about Google refusing to hand over information, when both yahoo and MSN just rolled over. It was then that I decided to drop both MSN & Yahoo.

I very much prefer doing business with a company that doesn’t just hand everything over as opposed to one who does.

Voice of Reason says:

Let's face it: you're right.

Let’s face it: you’re right.
But making her mad will only result in other problems. Just tell her you like it and will “enjoy” the GS-running new gyrations every five years to fit their new bubble and require a new move across country for “where the jobs are”.

Let’s be over with it.

Anonymous Coward says:

there is plenty of populous power in standing up to ‘the man’, but whatever positive that comes is offset by the negative ways the government may look at your company in the future. google is starting to feel a bit of that overseas, as more and more governments get interested in their data collection and retention issues. in the us, google has thumbed their noses at the government often enough that they have few friends in washington. so it is good pr short term, but perhaps longer term not such a good play. too bad this study doesnt have a wider view.

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

Re: Like BP?

no not like BP.
there is a huge huge difference between what is going on with that oil spill and the government getting a warrantless tap on your phone because you bought ice cream from the guy driving the ice cream truck who later turned out to be crazy achmed the failed suicide bomber who got caught.

use your noodle a bit more.

Steve says:

Re: Re:

“I think it is easy to assume that if someone from a branch of government is looking for information, that they are entitled to it.”

If you’re a business and a regulating agency is requesting information then yes, the Agency is entitled to it. IF, the information is necessary for them to fulfill their duties.

If you’re a citizen no individual from the government is entitled to information about you. Any request for information should require a warrant. If an agency is asking Google what your searches are and they don’t have a warrant they are not entitled to tat information.

Freedom says:

Big Government...

The problem is that Government has way too much control and there are way too many laws on the books.

If you p*ss off the wrong person with connections/power in Government, they literally can kill a small business and severly wound a large one.

Think of the power of telling the CEO of XYZ company that he can plan on tax audits for the company and everyone in management? In addition, every permit or regulation that they currently have going in their favor are going to be re-examined. Add in Cap ‘n Tax and they have another way to go after you.

Why any one would want to give our Government one ounce of more power is beyond me.

As an aside, the biggest form of control we give Government is with taxation. Take earned income, investment income, medicare and social security taxes off the table and replace them with a flat national sales tax and you not only simplify EVERY person and EVERY businesses tax compliance, but you remove a huge amount of power from the government over us. If there is one thing we can do to swing the tide of power back to the people of this nation is to abolish all taxes and replace them with a national one-time flat sales tax (on goods and services).


Dwayne Phillips (user link) says:

Give Govt info

Please remember that the vast majority of government officials – including elected, appointed, and just plain old Government Service bureaucrat – are petty and vindictive. They will get you if you don’t cooperate. Remember, they don’t have anything else to do. It isn’t like their time is important to the profit of their organization.

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