A law that required you to give a list of all your friendships to the NSA would die in a hail of political outrage. A law that allows the NSA to make Facebook tell you who all your friends are somehow doesn't create a similar problem. Bruce Schneier's The Public-Private Surveillance Partnership makes an important point about the way that corporations have become an arm of the surveillance state.
Here’s an example: It would be reasonable for our government to debate the circumstances under which corporations can collect and use our data, and to provide for protections against misuse. But if the government is using that very data for its own surveillance purposes, it has an incentive to oppose any laws to limit data collection. And because corporations see no need to give consumers any choice in this matter -- because it would only reduce their profits -- the market isn’t going to protect consumers, either.
Our elected officials are often supported, endorsed and funded by these corporations as well, setting up an incestuous relationship between corporations, lawmakers and the intelligence community.
The losers are us, the people, who are left with no one to stand up for our interests. Our elected government, which is supposed to be responsible to us, is not. And corporations, which in a market economy are supposed to be responsive to our needs, are not. What we have now is death to privacy -- and that’s very dangerous to democracy and liberty.
The Public-Private Surveillance Partnership
Rick Friday has been the editorial cartoonist for Farm News for 21 years, with a weekly slot in every Friday’s paper.
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