This is why I am in favor of greater (and smarter) regulation of business practices. We have had a few periods of lax or no regulation of business in our history, and the result is always the same: businesses become abusive, predatory, and dangerous.
We agree. I am wary of an "anything goes as long as it is a private company" mentality. That's why I keep posting the extent to which profit drives monitoring and data collection/sales in this country.
I'm still a supporter of the concept of government. I just want it to be better government. In my mind, government can range from local co-ops to global organizations. So I don't believe "government" is inherently good or bad.
I'm getting caught up on some of my reading from last week. Here's an illustration of how private companies are collecting info on you.
It's very difficult to avoid surveillance/monitoring by private companies unless you drop out of society altogether.
Companies scramble for consumer data - FT.com: "As basic information on consumers becomes ubiquitous, data brokers are tracking down even more details. For $0.26 per person, LeadsPlease.com sells the names and mailing addresses of people suffering from ailments such as cancer, diabetes and clinical depression. The information includes specific medications including cancer treatment drug Methotrexate and Paxil, the antidepressant, according to price details viewed by the FT."
If the goal of some is to reduce government regulations/restrictions to a minimum, then presumably private companies are more free do whatever they want. And some of them will do whatever they want in terms of collecting data.
The issue of privacy is really control. When we say we desire privacy, we're really saying that we desire the right to control who has access to the data we generate.
I agree. But what I think the articles I have posted collectively suggest is that the issue is fairly complex and deserves to be discussed in that way.
My point has been that tech companies have created the data-mining technologies and have been happy to both use it and to sell it, often working directly with government agencies. So it isn't a simple matter to point to government as the bad guy and everyone else as good guys because they are private companies. There are a lot of players in this area, and many companies are quite happy to take government money and aren't necessarily planning to prevent government from using either their data or their services.
Another writer looking beyond government and focusing on data collection in general.
Americans' Fickle Stance on Data Mining and Surveillance - Zachary Karabell - The Atlantic: "The most voracious collectors of information are not the U.S. government nor China. They are the companies doing business online. The metadata that the NSA wants is also metadata every marketer at every company wants. That makes the data collected online about each of us by companies every bit as intrusive as what the NSA collected. After all, some of the data the NSA collected came from companies such as Google and Facebook. ...
"Privacy, therefore, isn't nearly as valuable to us as the current outcry over the NSA would suggest. Until we address our rather schizophrenic attitudes - take my data if you're Facebook; leave it alone if you're the government - we're unlikely to come up with coherent policies that draw those vital lines between security, privacy and freedom that we claim to hold so dear."
U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data With Thousands of Firms - Bloomberg: "Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said."
If "Joe Blow" can determine your location using geotracking and a photo posted on facebook, then why would the government use the same basic technology to track what is going on around country/world?
Exactly. Why would anyone assume that governments wouldn't use the same tools available to everyone else? The more sophisticated technology gets, the more sophisticated government tracking gets (or should get -- I'm not sure governments are as up to speed as private companies are).
Douchebags Like You Are Ruining San Francisco: "Now it’s worse than it was in 2000. Now it’s only about the money. Now the only diversity we have left is ethnic diversity. Everyone is rich and privileged and entitled or hustling as hard as they can to become rich and privileged and entitled. A city once defined by people wanting to change the world is now defined by people who just want to be among the world’s richest. A culture that once understood history and tried to create it now has a memory that’s about 2 fiscal quarters long - and a vision that goes as far out as their funding allows."
I appreciate your clarification, thanks. Though I must disagree with your narrow scoping of anti-privacy apologists. They're inclusive, clearly, however the more damaging membership are citizens and law makers. Corporations will do anything for money and governments will do anything for more control.
The reason I keep jumping into these conversations is that I want to suggest an alternative to the Techdirt point of view. I am more concerned about corporate power than government power. I think corporations are collecting far more data than government and will push for far less accountability than government.
My bias is to keep government, but adjust it to best fit the needs of citizens. I support the expanded use of commons, which is a form of government. Not necessarily national government, but a form of government none the less.
I am most wary of concentration of power and I see that happening most with the way corporations are owned and how wealth is accumulated.
If I am going to wave a red flag, it would be the close association between big corporations and big government, and how they operate to serve each other's needs. I think private data collection and government data collection are ultimately so closely linked that it is misleading to suggest government operates independently from tech companies.
Oh and I forgot a couple of obvious "inconsistencies"
We can order the killing of citizens.
We can order targeting of a sovereign country's citizens via unmanned death machines regardless of civilian casualties.
I'm sure I've missed other obvious things but "authorization to deliver death in someone else's country" seemed rather important.
Attempts to arrest the Bin Ladens I get. Special missile deliveries not so much. We're wreaking fucking havoc on the world via IP, Oil and terrorism.
There are two different issues: (1) collecting the data and what is done with it and (2) using the data to make wars and put people into prison.
Given that many companies want to continue to collect data and it will be very unlikely the data won't get to governments, trying to control this will be hard.
Therefore, it might make more sense to make sure countries like the US don't fight wars and laws are changed to minimize imprisonment.
All I have been trying to do is suggest that when tech companies themselves want data collecting and analyzing technology, and want the freedom to use it, it will be hard for them to also limit government access to it, particularly if government is one of their customers.
The anti-privacy apologists are the tech companies like Google. That's what I keep trying to point out. Google doesn't want any laws to get in the way of what it collects and what it does with it.
And if you have private companies wanting complete freedom to monitor people and accumulate data, OF COURSE government has access to it too. Even if government doesn't participate, it can BUY the data. Once the data exists and once there is a market for it, government can get it just like a company participating in the marketplace.
If you want minimal government regulations so that private companies are free to do whatever they want, and if you don't want government to do anything, then what will eventually happen is that "government" will become a private company and also to be free to do whatever it wants.
Whatever activities people don't want government to do, but are okay when private companies do them, then those functions are just taken over by private companies.
If we are okay when private companies attach monitors to everything, and if we are okay when private companies "own" that data and can do whatever they want with it, and if we are okay when private companies either create partnerships or expand their operations so that everything piece of info in the world passes through the same collection point, then we have created a system that functions like a government-run surveillance state, but is "private."
So we just need to call "private" anything that isn't politically popular, and if we get rid of restrictions/regulations on everything that is "private," then "government" surveillance discussions go away.
For all of the kicking and screaming, you do realize that Google knows almost as much about you, and they are a private company, right? Every one of your searches, every page you visit using their browser, their smart phone OS browser, their properties, all of your gmail mail, all of your google plus groups...plus all of that data they cache from other sites... it's all there. Technology allows, and it's all legal. You should worry more about that.
Yes, that's the point I have wanted to make, too. Why does anyone think that technology created by private companies and available to just about anyone for a price would somehow NOT be used by government?
Let's say some private company invents the ultimate weapon, and sells it. Does anyone realistically think that individuals and companies can purchase this weapon but some governments can not?
If the technology is invented and if it is being sold, it is available for government, too.
These tech companies don't want laws to limit what they create and what they do with it, so why do people think such a free system would at the same time prevent government from purchasing and using this technology?
You can't realistically have a system that is available to everyone and yet off-limits to government. What are you going to do? Create more laws which then require even more government to enforce them?
I didn't know everyone was forced to use Google products. Damn, looks like I'm going to jail because I use Duckduckgo.
If you use any company's mobile phone, you are being tracked by someone.
If Google becomes the best place to supply broadband services, will you opt out because it is Google?
As Google maps the world, will you find a way to hide?
And as you use any sort of digital product/service, how do you know that Google isn't getting that information? If Google has the capacity to connect every dot in the world, how to you avoid the company?
As Google sucks up every piece of info in the world that it can suck up, how to you avoid having info about you being added to that database?