The surveillance economy has 67 days to disarm before Trump is sworn in

The Obama administration asserted the power to raid the massive databases of peoples' private, sensitive information that ad-based tech companies have assembled; the Trump administration has promised to use Obama's powers to effect the surveillance and deportation of 11 millions undocumented migrants, and the ongoing, continuous surveillance of people of Muslim heritage.

Companies like Google and Facebook have 67 days to minimize their data collection and retention before Trump is sworn in. That's 67 days during which they can take a hard, close look at how much of their data they actually need to do their jobs, and how much they're storing because hard drives are cheap and someone might have a cool idea down the line somewhere.

Dutch governments used their registers to record the homes of ethnic minorities in its border; these files could have been used by the Nazis to figure out which doors to break down. That's why, on 27 March 1943, the Dutch resistance set fire to the municipal records hall, why the firefighters who responded made sure that they kept watering the building long after the fire was out, destroying any records that survived.

What will Googlers and Facebookers tell their children in ten years when they ask about the databases that Trump asserted the right to raid?

The comments came from Pinboard CEO Maciej Ceglowski, a longtime critic of data collection on the web. According to Ceglowski, the only sane response to a Trump presidency was to get rid of as much stored user data as possible. "If you work at Google or Facebook," he wrote on Pinboard's Twitter account, "please start a meaningful internal conversation about giving people tools to scrub their behavioral data." Both companies declined to comment.

The sentiment was echoed by sociologist Zeynep Tufekci, who wrote that "tech companies should immediately go to end-to-end encryption and ponder alternative financial models."

For both critics, the concern is surveillance. Once Trump is legally in charge of the nation's intelligence agencies, all that data will be subject to FISA orders and extra-legal hacking campaigns. And given his alarming comments on muslims, refugees, and members of the press, there's no telling who might be subject to such a campaign. "If the FBI wanted to round up every muslim in America for detailed questioning, that didn't seem like a likely scenario, but now it seems much more likely," Ceglowski said in a call with The Verge. "It's viscerally brought home why this matters."

Should Google be scrubbing servers to prepare for President Trump?
[Russell Brandom/The Verge]