This week CNN.com ran an opinion piece to which they assigned the headline, We’re losing control of our digital privacy. The essay actually focuses on a very specific invasion of privacy: government surveillance of American citizens through privately-run digital platforms and services. This is a problem I discuss at length in Chapter 5, “Eroding Accountability.”
In the article I point out:
Under two successive administrations, new laws, policies and corporate practices have made it much easier for government agencies to track and access citizens’ private digital communications from their storage “in the cloud” than it is for agents to search or monitor our physical homes, offices, vehicles, and mail.
After citing a number of concrete examples I then raise a question:
In the Internet age, it is inevitable that corporations and government agencies will have access to detailed information about people’s lives. We willingly share personal information with companies for the convenience of using their products. We accept that a certain amount of surveillance is necessary in order to protect innocent people from crime and terror. But as a nation we have failed to address the resulting dilemma: How do we prevent the abuse of the power we have willingly delegated to government and companies?
The essay concludes:
In 2012, the American people rightly expect presidential and congressional candidates to explain how they plan to protect us from crime and terror. In the Internet age, that inevitably requires some degree of surveillance. Yet it is equally vital we demand a clear vision of how they will protect us from abuses of government surveillance power through the corporate-run digital platforms upon which we are increasingly dependent.