Tech companies are taking greater steps to protect consumer data and fight the NSA. In the end, consumer confidence and technological innovation are at stake.

Thursday, June 5th, marked the anniversary of former intelligence agent Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA and how it gathers intelligence on American citizens. Snowden has been on the run ever since, making his presence known across Europe (even with his disguise attempts).

Once Snowden leaked the news that the National Security Agency (NSA) has used Internet loopholes to gather information about its citizens, he may not know it, but he started a revolution. Consumers have become more cautious about how their data is being used and protected, and tech companies have become more suspicious of the government than ever. It was said, prior to the Snowden leak, that American wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon were in the federal government’s “back pocket.” Now, according to recent reports, AT&T and Verizon are making it more difficult to gain access to user data without a warrant.

Microsoft, once accused of snooping through the user data of one of its employees and handing over information to the NSA through its OneDrive cloud storage, has now gone on record as saying that it will no longer go through the personal data of its users without sufficient evidence of suspicion. Google, considered by many to have said that users can’t expect privacy if they’re on the World Wide Web, has become a privacy advocate for its customers. Google’s latest decision regarding user privacy is to lay fiber optic cable under the world’s oceans. This will make it harder for the NSA to intercept user data than ever before. Yahoo, Microsoft, and Facebook are also working harder to protect user data.

As for Google, the company is committed to user data and doesn’t mind fighting against the NSA. “I am willing to help on the purely defensive side of things, but signals intercept is totally off the table. No hard feelings, but my job is to make their job hard,” said Google security chief Eric Grosse. Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith has been outspoken for Microsoft against the NSA’s actions, noting that the NSA isn’t only harming the American confidence in its government, but also technological innovation: “People won’t use technology they don’t trust. We need to strike a better balance between privacy and national security to restore trust and uphold our fundamental liberties.”

The battle has come down to 1) consumer privacy and 2) government intelligence-gathering. There’s good and bad to both sides: a stronger data encryption and security against NSA snooping would protect the interests of citizens, but some American congressional representatives believe that the federal government can’t protect user data if it doesn’t have access to that same data. No matter what side you find yourself on, tech companies are more committed to their customers. We wouldn’t expect different; without confidence in tech companies, consumers won’t spend, and if consumers don’t spend, then tech companies decline and eventually go out of business. If the federal government truly believed that America was a democracy and understood that democracies work by the citizen public’s elections of federal officials, it too would be committed to user privacy.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah, they’re real committed to that as long as they get to collect your private data for advertisement and store it forever.

    It’s cute that they’re standing up against government data collection, but the gesture is the textbook definition of hypocritical.

  2. It is difficult to believe anyone anymore. Many of these ‘tech’ companies were working with the NSA and many admitted it. Now, they say that they are working to protect individual’s privacy… One cannot be sure if this is just PR or not. I would suggest that this is more PR than attempting to protect the public…

    • Actions that create legitimate open-source encryption movements aren’t p.r. b.s., they’re real. That’s the definition of real action. You seem jaded to the point of not knowing the difference.

  3. NSA: “Okay [PRISM-listed tech companies], make it seem like you’re really standing up to us, got it? Make those people think you’re truly on their side and against us. Strengthen encryption and slip us the keys. They won’t even know.”

    Google/Yahoo/Microsoft/etc: “Got it, no problem.”

    Best PR swindle ever! Good job, NSA. It’s working.

  4. Calling Snowden an “intelligent agent” is like calling the guy who slaps your Big Mac together a chef. He was a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor assigned to IT duties – system/server administration – who, unfortunately, had access to far too much data that should have been compartmentalized.

    I was a NSA employee, both collector and analyst, for 25+ years and I cannot begin to fathom the irrevocable damage this guy has done to the legitimate efforts of that organization to protect the lives of Americans, and others, around the globe.

    • So, your one of the people that are for secret courts and judges where if you screw some innocent’s life, you can keep it quiet, no need to let anyone know about it. What do you do with your mistakes, hide the away in one of the secret prisons so as not to tarnish what’s left of your reputation??

      Do you think, as Napolatano did/does, that every citizen of the USA is a probable/possible terrorist and has to have some Stazi like elf peeking through their windows 24/7 ?? Stolen anyone’s ID yet, maybe skimmed off a few bank accounts?? One could probably get good odds that you and your type would have felt completely comfortable in East Berlin before the wall came down…….

  5. For one to think those with means don’t use means to gather elements for the sole purpose of improvement one’s own existence. Sham can only fall with without shear, strengthens without weaks and hope without worry. For one to be free one only needs time. They have gone by names and acronyms since before I was born and in my lifetime I can only think of one term that depicts those that come against.. Cunts…

  6. This article is part of a huge lie campaign that has just been started by the CIA.

    Intelligence Agencies are Manipulating the Internet With Deliberate Disinformation: Documents recently released by whistleblower Edward Snowden confirm that western intelligence agencies are deliberately flooding the web with disinformation in order to, “inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets.” These techniques are intended to “control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse,” which has the effect of, “compromising the integrity of the internet itself,” according to journalist Glenn Greenwald.

    Governments are Paying Trolls to Sway Public Opinion: In 2010, Canada’s CTV News reported on how federal authorities were paying companies to “correct misinformation” on web forums. The Turkish, Israeli and Chinese governments along with a host of others have also implemented similar programs, while the U.S. Air Force hired data security firm HBGary to create large numbers of fake social media profiles that could be used to spread propaganda while countering anti-U.S. rhetoric online. Raw Story reported that the obvious function of the program was to “manipulate public opinion on key information, such as news reports,” thereby creating, “the illusion of consensus.”

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