In a recent post on ViralRead, I listed five technology issues that will be hot-buttons in the next six to eight months. Privacy was at the top of the list.
The NSA/PRISM revelations have exposed that Federal authorities can pull information from technology companies. For many Americans, the concept of a little surveillance in exchange for thwarted attacks is a fair trade. Hammering the Obama Administration on the facts of this “scandal” likely won’t be a long-term political winner, and the Administration can’t scale back terrorism investigations while blood still stains the sidewalks in Boston.
And here’s a dose of reality: the “personal” information that the government was getting from the likes of Facebook and Google? It’s information that people volunteered. Google doesn’t know anything about you until you search for “Winged Monkeys in Chaps” – even if you’re totally only looking it up for a friend. Facebook only has pictures of your kids when you upload them. Your cell phone only triangulates your location via GPS after you buy the phone. These creature comforts may seem difficult to live without, so we buy the products, use the services, and participate in the networks. We should understand there are consequences to giving our data to a third party. It’s not bad that we do it, but we need to be careful.
It is a short jump, though, from “Wow, look at all the stuff the NSA got from Facebook!” to “Hey, why does Facebook have all this stuff in the first place?” Suddenly, tech companies are the easy bad guys.
This possibility is a likely reason Google is fighting to tell everyone what they forked over to the NSA.