Monday, December 09, 2013
There are usually economic reasons for business and government to get along, but not in this instance. Tech companies are worried that government spying on customers will send them fleeing to other services. It is a legitimate concern. Who wants to know that someone could be looking into everything one does or writes online? It is Big Brother and a dystopia to be feared. The government justifies its actions on the basis of tracking terrorists who live in shadows. That too is a valid concern. Somewhere, there needs to be an accommodation and enforceable rules. The problem now with the secrecy under which the government operates is that there is no way to tell if bureaucrats follow guidelines or systematically violate them. The evidence appears to be that latter. It is interesting that two views of the public weal are clashing -- one for privacy and the other for safety. It is hard to know which is more important since both have high priority. It will be up to negotiations between the companies and the government to determine when snooping is justified and when privacy is more important. The government cannot be arrogant in this because tech companies are moving already to secure their data more tightly than before.