59,000 and Counting. How the Government is Keeping Us In The Dark.

Is our privacy truly at risk? Artist: S. Kelley

Is our privacy truly at risk? Artist: S. Kelley

Security and privacy has been a highly controversial issue since the Edward Snowden NSA information leak. In a constantly growing world of technology, humanity is facing increasing pressures to be responsible when using their phones and the internet; however, it now seems that taking the “normal” precautionary measures is not enough to battle against the exposure of private information. A recent Wired.com article, In Just 6 Months, the NSA spied on More Than 59,000revealed that four of the technology industry’s giants (Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo) have all released reports stating that the government has covertly demanded the contents of over 59,000 user accounts in the first half of 2013. The first half of 2013! If they can secure 59,000 accounts’ worth of information in that short of a time, what do you think they will do in the coming years?

Snowden QuoteWhile the government does require that it formally requests information from tech companies, Google and Yahoo revealed that the amount of accounts spied on does not match the number of government demands. Although I realize that the government is acting on behalf of American citizens to protect them from terrorism, I am also rather infuriated that the government is taking such “liberties” to force companies into sharing massive amounts private information stored on their systems. There is a certain amount of data that benefits the government’s anti-terrorism activities; however, the amount of spying on citizens who are not even considered “threats” is becoming excessive and violating citizens’ privacy rights.

Although I am worried about the future of American citizens’ privacy protection, companies such as Google and Yahoo are beginning to fight for the peoples’ rights. They have taken matters into their own hands by petitioning the government to significantly expand on its transparency report. This would allow technology companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo to publish specific information regarding government demands for access to user account information. The fact that large technology companies are now standing up for the rights of their account users provides me with hope that the government cannot proceed to unethically obtain private information. It will be interesting to see how this issue pans out in the next couple of years.


4 thoughts on “59,000 and Counting. How the Government is Keeping Us In The Dark.

  1. Have you ever been searched by the police? Stopped and frisked? One issue that I think that gets overlooked is that unwarranted searches are themselves a problem. Often, defenders of the governments actions will say something like “if you didn’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.” We do not need to wait for someone to be falsely accused or prosecuted to say such domestic spying is a burden. Simply knowing your communications may not be private can make a person fearful, distrustful of the government, or to limit their communication.

    I write some about terrorism. I have wondered, does that make me more vulnerable to NSA-type searches?

    Even questioning myself can lead me to subtlely to not write the same, or as much.

    Like false positives in medicine, like being told you have cancer when you don’t, unneeded spying has its own costs.

  2. I think you bring up some really interesting points here. I was surprised to read that the government obtains a great deal of information from companies like Google and Facebook. This doesn’t seem right to me. While I understand that the government regulates certain activity by public corporations, I don’t think that they have the right to demand information about their customers. I also agree that transparency is a major issue. If the government is more honest about its actions and maintains transparency, many people would feel far less violated by these actions.

  3. Wow! I guess I am happy that companies are starting to stand up to the government. These companies should not give the government information simply because they ask for it–they should have to document their formal request so there is a record of it. There is such a fine line between anti-terrorism research and privacy invasion, and it seems that this line is being crossed more frequently. I am all for the government fighting terrorist actions, but I do not believe that this gives them the right to access any information they want without legal documentation.

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