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Tech giants' surveillance reform rally is disingenuous and self-serving

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I'll be brief, because I'm seven days now with the flu and don't feel much like writing. But today's "open letter" for global government surveillance reform demands rebuke.

I'm all for curbing government snooping, but what about corporations collecting information? Tech Giant's -- AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo -- reform rally is disingenuous and self-serving. These same companies collect mountains of personal information for profit. So, what? It's okay for them to snoop, but not governments?

 

My thinking: Trust no one, particularly those with strong financial incentives. I soundly support reform requests from parties that don't directly benefit from curbs -- particularly, in the United States, those standing on the Constitution.

In assessing anything I report about, the first question asked: Who benefits? The letters' principal signers are the biggest beneficiaries. These companies seek immediate public relations gains, by disassociating from an unpopular practice for which they either are or are perceived to be complicit. Long-term, reform removes the government as an information-collector competitor, frees these companies from having to share customer information with authorities, and loosens corporations from government scrutiny -- if nothing else extent of their own information gathering and location of their web servers.

Edward Snowden's revelations about NSA spying are unfathomable to comprehend and surely unconstitutional. But bureaucracy collecting information en masse is very different from the cold, directed tactics the letters' principal signatories use. They are easily able to identify who you are and build portfolios based on online behavior.

 

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