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Tech Companies And American Privacy

Beyond the N.S.A. Legal scholar Jeffrey Rosen says we need a constitutional amendment to protect our online privacy from Internet companies. He’s with us.

This undated file photo made available by Google shows the campus-network room at a data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (AP)

This undated file photo made available by Google shows the campus-network room at a data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (AP)

The country’s in an unresolved uproar over the NSA and super-charged government surveillance.  Constitutional law scholar Jeffrey Rosen says look around.  Our concern, he says, should not just be with the government.  Private companies, from Silicon Valley right across the country, are collecting data on us on a scale that would bewilder the founders.  The Fourth Amendment bars unreasonable search and seizure by the government.  Rosen says that should be extended to cover private industry.  Watch out Google.  This hour On Point:  beyond the NSA.  American privacy, the constitution, and private companies.

– Tom Ashbrook


Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George Washington Law School. Legal affairs editor of The New Republic. President and Chief Executive of the National Constitution Center. (@RosenJeffrey)

Adam Thierer, senior research fellow, Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. (@AdamThierer)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Madison’s Privacy Blind Spot – “The debate between Judge Leon and Judge Pauley echoes the one between Federalists and Anti-Federalists about the proper scope of government, one Madison, a moderate for his time, so effectively straddled.”

U.S. News & World Report: Relax and Learn to Love Big Data — “In recent years, concerns about our digital privacy have been exacerbated by the growth of ‘big data,’ or massive data sets that are used by companies and other organizations to catalog information about us. These data sets are used to tailor new and better digital services to us and also to target ads to our interests, which helps keep online content and service cheap or free. But some critics still fear the ramifications for our privacy of all this data being collected.”

Bloomberg Businessweek: Security Expert Bruce Schneier Says to Foil NSA Spies, Encrypt Everything — “There is some good news in the Snowden documents, Schneier said, and that’s that encryption still works. The NSA has often been able to get around it because other parts of the equation, like software or hardware, are insecure. Still, most current cryptography gives the NSA some trouble, and a lot of the data that the NSA snags isn’t encrypted. That means we’re making it too easy for the NSA to pursue its ‘collect everything’ mania. Schneier’s solution: encrypt everything we can, from the cloud to cell phones.”

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  • Coastghost

    No word in the Bloomberg article from Mr. Schneier on NSA efforts to attain quantum computing capability. From what we’ve been told, NSA acquisition of a quantum computer of its liking will make all internet data accessible, in terms of encryption: no P/W would be secure and no security algorithm would be sacrosanct.
    Or does Mr. Schneier (also) fail to tell us in his interview that quantum computing will make internet security somehow more robust? Id est: why preach “encrypt everything” when encryption itself could be obsolete within a matter of years or months?

    • Euphoriologist

      We’re doomed!

      In the real world, cryptographic researchers have long known there is nothing magical or world-changing about quantum computing (QC). Contrary to popular science scare stories about the coming singularity and the accompanying end of humanity, QC does not introduce any super-secret nuclear technology that will magically crack every encryption algorithm around the world in less than a second.

      QC has been studied for decades and the implications on cryptography are well known. You may or may not even be aware that D-Wave Systems, Inc. has been selling increasingly powerful quantum computers on the commercial market for YEARS and no planes have fallen out of the sky. Google has them, NASA has them, the Russians have them. Lots of people have real working quantum computers right now, not just the NSA!


      Far from failing to mention QC, Bruce Schneier has tackled QC scare stories over and over again, starting at least as far back as 2008 and continuing to today:


      In the very worst case, in the event QC ever starts working like it’s been theorized to by paranoid people, everyone will have to double their password lengths to protect themselves. That’s it. No singularity; no end of the universe as we know it. After all, QC doesn’t change the mathematics of prime number distribution, no matter how much quantum superposition you take advantage of.

      If you’re encryption is ever going to be compromised, it will be because of poor end-point security (most likely) or bugs in your software tool implementations (still happens). But it won’t be because of the math. And it definitely won’t be because of QC.

      • Coastghost

        My sense from reliable NPR reporting on this issue suggests that the difference in computing power between a conventional computer and a QC rather exceeds the difference between a lit match and a nuclear weapon. –or would exhibit at least as much difference. –or would exhibit no lesser degree of difference.

  • alsordi

    So typical of the US media to focus this NSA issue on “private conversations” rather than on the real issue: inside trading and corporate espionage. The little people should care less about whose listening in, unless you are Bill Clinton being blackmailed over your phone sex, in order to coerce your foreign policy decisions.

    If not for the billions $$ that a select few are making on the stock market, it is amazing that the US financial system has regained any credibility what-so-ever. With algorythmic highspeed trading systems the norm, and the completely overlooked inside trading information from NSA employees and its Israeli based contractors.

  • Labropotes

    IBM’s Asia/Pacific 4th quarter revenue decreased by 16%. ZeroHedge attributes that to NSA related security concerns.

  • AC

    i wonder how many superheroes will step forward to actually administer any law put in place? lets see; honor vs self-interest…
    a lot of these lone cowboys are too good, good luck trying to stop them when you do even know how it’s done…..amusing, really.

  • alsordi

    Don’t kid yourself, NSA, who is supposed to protect you, or entities associated therein, may also have their meta-data set for terms like “acquisitions, mergers, and stock splits”.

  • longfeather

    If the right wing abortion protesters could set the meta-data filter for words related to seeking an abortion, there would be no need for safety-zones at protester sites, they would abuse you on the phone like a debt collector.

  • Coastghost

    Great opportunity to address Paul Feyerabend’s contention that we will prosper going forward by insisting every bit as much upon separation of “science and state” as in Madison’s day separation of “church and state” seemed so commendable.

  • Saul B

    Remind me again: how many cents does it cost you every time you do a Google search or check your Gmail?

    As long as you’re not paying for these services, you are not end-users. *You* and your online persona are the product.

    Google and the like aren’t charities. They’re companies in it to make a buck. If you’re not paying to use its services, how else do you expect it to be profitable?

    • Coastghost

      It also pays to recall that our beloved internet grew directly from a Defense Department research program.
      Was Ike really warning us about the advent of the internet?

    • dek

      I haven’t done much research into it, but I would GLADLY pay a fee for service that truly protects my privacy.

      Do you, or others, have suggestions for paid services that would provide that?

      • Sandstone3

        IT is up to each of us to protect our identities. We’ve already given it away so that bridge has been crossed. Are all your facebook settings absolutely private? Is your location setting on your phone ‘off’? Yes, this means you can’t use phone maps. If you have an android phone, google already has you bc you need a google email acct to have one (one of the BIGGEST reasons I resisted android but ultimately accepted). Put a credit freeze on your accounts to prevent new credit cards being opened. All your store cards – cvs, stop & shop, walgreens etc – you’re profiled. We’ve all given it away.

  • AC

    i disagree. i see google glass type products as the final, real end to fraud. who cares if i was walking to the corner store at 3pm on Tuesday? but if i get mugged, they’ll be less likely to get away with it.

    • tarryfaster

      Do you have ANY idea how naive you are?

      • AC

        i belong to a group that regulary discusses the removal of boundaries and borders; goverment, patent, etc. they want everything open source/network/sharing. so perhaps you think i am naive, but i’m ok with it. i will admit, i’m a little uptight when they talk about removing copyright, i don’t think we’ve evolved as a species enough for that. we’re too uncivil.

        • tarryfaster

          AC, I think that it is important that you and your group explore ALL concepts of freedom. Certainly Internet structures like Net Neutrality, Open Source and Linux are vital — even critical — aspects of our quest for individual and collective liberty, international human rights and the sanctity of our planet. However, I encourage you and your friends to maintain an even more critical and vigilant study and awareness of history and more specifically, contemporary political history.

          I’d like to point out that as of January 1st, I suddenly (and surprisingly) became 70 years old and so, consequently, have an advantage over you — in that I have actually experienced the ongoing and accelerating degeneration of our world. For some perspective, my earliest political opinions go back to the Eisenhower/Stevenson elections of the 50’s, so you can see that I have been a long time observer of (and minor actor in) this “realtime movie.” Until November of 1963, I trusted our government implicitly. However, I lost that trust when my government fervently tried to convince me that the most powerful man in the world was shot from behind, when it was obvious that he was shot from the front. That distrust has, over the years, snowballed into an almost obsessive quest to discover, “Who done it?” and why.

          Over the years, the focus of my ongoing quest has varied from politicians to bankers to corporations to the CIA, etc. But I sensed that I was missing a common ingredient, a unified connection. Then, several years ago, I decided to explore the psychology of the individuals who were “running things” and THAT is where I am today — delving into the minds of the individuals who are continually and compulsively molding our world to fulfill their obsessional quest for power and control of others. My first clue came when I found a website that warned me to, “Beware the Psychopath, My Son.” That lead me to a little book called, Political Ponerology: A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes, by Andrzej Lobaczewski. (Links below.)

          So, that is where I am, today. Trying to figure out a way to remove from and keep out of positions of power the 1-6% of humanity that has constantly plagued Mankind since the beginning of recorded history. AC, I truly empathize with your dreams and visions of a more free world where we are all treated with respect, care for the welfare of each other as well as Mother Earth … after all, I was a Howl reading young Beatnik before I was an anti-war and pot smoking Hippy protestor. However, please heed my warning and don’t play into “their” insidious trap by giving up the very rights that are your best, and last, defense against their suicidal plunge into eternal darkness for all.

          Instead, why not explore the possibility of testing ALL people seeking powerful positions? After all, we test drivers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, pilots, etc.; why do we NOT test those who hold the most powerful reins of control over all the world? This should be a non-partisan issue with a single movement that is composed of a coalition of all other movements and designed to unite the masses against these deranged individuals. Let me know if you and your friends want to get started, as I’d join a group like that!





        • tarryfaster

          AC, I tried to post a Reply to you, but it was rejected — too long. If you would like to read it, email me –

          tarryfaster (at) cloudbyteconsulting (dot) com

        • tarryfaster

          For reasons that I don’t understand, my Replies to you are being censored.
          terry (at) newnebula (dot) com

  • Mike Ciolino

    We give these companies permission to do this in exchange for free web based service. The services these companies provide are not required to live our lives. I’d doesn’t matter if we think they are intrusive – we are giving them the right to do it.

  • closetothetruth

    this is so incredibly necessary. Just think of this: the NSA and other parts of government are technically required to follow law, Constitution, and Congressional oversight. private companies, pretty much not at all. if you think police powers in possession of the State are *more* worrisome than their possession by private, for-profit companies, you are not thinking straight.

  • vito33

    Did I just hear that right? I was in the kitchen. Did Zuckerberg just tout himself as a privacy advocate? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAhahahah.

  • Unterthurn

    Google maps has been in the German news the past few days for their huge failure to remove “Hitler” references from their maps although there have been so many complaints. Google is not capable of removing items like”Hitlerberg” or “Hitler” bridge even though whole towns, mayors and private persons submit complaints that such marked places are incorrect. Google is just not in the position to control their own data. Intervention is needed to control this body.

  • longfeather

    It costs money to keep a secret. Stealth Bomber. Trident Sub Screw. etc. Otherwise people talk about things in regular give and take. It takes the right person overhearing something to realize its significance. Think about when it got out that the Navy had raised the piers in Norfolk 5 ft. All of a sudden Americans found out the facts and data of sea level rise, and cities along the coast could take steps based on facts, not fantasy. But for ordinary citizens to actually know what they are signing away, I consider them ‘not competent to make that decision”
    If you don’t believe developers on the inside knew about sea level rise and were using that info, well you indeed are very innocent.

  • AC

    privacy is a middle class concept

    • closetothetruth

      hey everyone, Facebook hired someone to post here. Kewl!

    • dek

      Would you explain more?

      • AC

        i read it somewhere, sorry i can not remember the source, but it popped into my mind….

  • Twinkie McGovern

    Just this past weekend, protesters in Ukraine (where such protests have recently been declared illegal) got messages on their cell-phones telling them “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”

    Assuming the cell phone company in Kiev is a private company, this represents a chilling example of the abuse of Big Data in a “public/private partnership.”

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    I do not want to have advertisements at all. And I do not want to be tracked in order to “tailor” ads to me. Ads are wasted on me, and I actually am turned off by most advertizing.

    • vito33

      Amazon will deliver a book to you very soon based on your comment.

      • Joachim110

        If they do, charge them for the time and work to ship it back to them.

        • J__o__h__n

          I think you are legally allowed to keep anything mailed to you that was unsolicited.

    • Saul B

      Neil, then how much are you willing to spend per Google search? Or per e-mail received and sent?

      50¢? 25¢? 1¢?

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        Lemme flip that around – advertising to me is virtually worthless, so my search history is nearly worthless to the advertisers that buy it from Google. Google can do what it wants with the *anonymous* info from my searches, and if it wants to offer a search service, that is their choice.

        What we are talking about is the ethics of tracking and storing the data, and all the possible results of this.

        • Saul B

          But clearly the ads must have some monetary value, or else Google would be out of business.

          Without such tracking and the ensuing targeted ads, how do you propose that Google and Facebook and the like be able to offer their services free of charge?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            I block all ads on all sites, except the ones that I want to support.

            I also do not have cable TV – I watch only broadcasts and I mute all ads. They have an inverse result, and I avoid buying the crap they are foisting on us.

            Look up the Story of Stuff. It is all a farcical waste.

          • Sandstone3

            Pray tell – HOW do you block these things? FB now added a zinger of ‘Suzy’ (a ‘friend’ of mine) likes followed by the ad

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Firefox + Adblock Plus.

          • Sandstone3


          • tbphkm33

            I do the same thing – a lot of people are less likely to buy a product that is heavily advertised. Simple equation, if its such a great product, why does it need all the marketing? Good products sell themselves.

        • Sandstone3

          I agree. Let me provide an example: I was buying a TON of boots for a homless program I work with. I wasn’t paying for them. There was a cap on the # we were buying. I knew what & where I was buying them. Having most, I took a break & then had to go back for a couple more. With that couple more, where I had no boot ads obsessively visible, all of a sudden every where I went, BOOTS, BOOTS, BOOTS and more boots. I wasn’t buying anymore! They were wasted! This is usually my MO too – they are wasted on me.

          • Saul B

            Do you also complain to NBC, CBS and ABC that the commercials they air don’t make you go out and buy the product?

          • Sandstone3

            Actually, I recently wrote to P&G about one of their TIDE ads. The one with the kid spilling his icecream on the table in front of his grandmother and intentionally making a huge mess. The kind of brat who then smilingly looks up and (in today’s society) has no boundaries set. I told them I wanted to SMACK the kid and what kind of behavior are they condoning?

    • Sandstone3

      Why can’t they figure out how to profile people who KNOW what they want & where they want it & will not be sidetracked/detracted to look at/consider something else? It’s not profitable which is why it won’t be created. I wonder if they realized it might make people RESENT their ads/likely not to shop there?

  • Dab200

    Fine with the google and other internet searches. What about my email and searches of those? How come the moment I wrote in an email about death in the family, within 3 minutes received loads of email from funeral and cremation services! I pay a lot for broadband and our own server so why are my emails not protected in the same way as our paper mail is protected by Federal law?

    • Sandstone3

      I’m sorry for your loss.
      Ironically, I have to wonder if elimination of net neutrality means you would get MORE (not less) similar emails.

      • Dab200

        Thank you but I only mentioned it because it literary shows how creepy it is! Our emails should be protected, out of any kind of searches as our paper mail is. If someone opens my letter it’s a Federal crime! Why not so in case of email?

  • J__o__h__n

    Why are so many Americans so willing to surrender all rights to private companies under an extreme theory of freedom of contract? The government has always had the right to forbid contracts contrary to the public interest, which would certainly include privacy rights.

  • Mike Ciolino

    This is NOT about private companies – This is about PEOPLE GIVING their information away freely

  • closetothetruth

    please, someone else call in and say this is just up to individuals, companies “just want to sell me something,” and the individual has choice–about all kinds of things *we don’t even know are happening.* You’re just wrong, and might as well be speaking on behalf of the companies. By the way, what does Booz Allen sell? Palantir? Oh, the same stuff the NSA does–actually they sell it TO the NSA. but they just want to ‘sell us stuff’ and it’s all up to our individual choice.

  • Joachim110

    We need some Politicians that take up the privacy of our citizens. It should not be allowed that companies store information without consent and use social security numbers to track our every being. Europe has a strong data protection act and we need a similar law in this country to reign in the every increasing intrusion into our life.

    • Sandstone3

      They make too much money to care.

  • richard

    As noble as a Constitutional Amendment sounds it is an instrument of the cultural elite. For the average Joe who desires to maintain a semblance of anonymity in this age of surveillance, a re-write of Abbie Hoffman’s “Steal This Book,” Is in order and its effect will be more efficacious than Constitutional Amendment

    For example: Give these urchins false information. Supermarket Cards can be had by giving the supermarket a false identity. Use the name and address of person who had died. And remember Jean Shepard who wrote the book, “In God We Trust–All Others Pay Cash.” Become all others.

    • J__o__h__n

      I had to show my ID to buy cough medicine on Saturday and the clerk typed something into the computer. I was too sick to argue. If I had been planning to make meth, I probably wouldn’t have bought the generic.

  • Unterthurn

    What if China were to purchase Google?
    Would you still feel comfortable with them having your info?

  • closetothetruth

    people *think* they can opt out of Google. they don’t and can’t.

  • Adam DerMarderosian

    We at least need a recognition that the data they store is ours.

  • closetothetruth

    yep, Google has nothing in common with government. That’s why it’s recently bought military robotics companies. definitely nothing to regulate there, because it would be “paternalism.” Google’s freedom to conduct pseudo-governmental operations, like that of Booz Allen and Palantir, is exactly what the Constitution was written to protect. In a libertarian nightmare world, that is.

    • tarryfaster

      Also, keep in mind that Google recently joined ALEC. So now, if Google finds that you are using Gmail to write negatively about them, they can instantly Google Map you and use the Stand Your Ground law to shoot you down.

  • spiral007

    your current caller said that ‘the bill of right applies to individuals and not businesses’….I guess the SC does not agree with him….remember corporations are PEOPLE!!! and have free speech rights.

  • J__o__h__n

    The right to be spied on by private companies is as welcome as the right to have no health care. Thanks for defending my freedom, Adam.

  • AC
  • ThirdWayForward

    I think the biggest worry is that massive databases are being made on hundreds of millions of people that can be used to discriminate in hiring. The information in credit card and web databases can be sold to other corporations. All it takes is some plutocrat, say the owner of Walmart or Home Depot, to decide that they are not going to hire job applicants with political or unionist tendencies X or Y. There are plenty of predictive models that can make fairly accurate classifications of these things on the basis of what is bought (and there are plenty of public records to be mined as well).

    In a better world, individuals should have to be informed as to what kinds of data are collected, when it is transferred or sold, and they should have the option of erasing that data whenever they choose. Opting in should be a choice, but so should opting out.

    I am not optimistic that we can get private sector dossiers under control. We cannot even put teeth into laws that prohibit unwanted phone calls and mass marketing intrusions. It is a truism that corporate America has all but completely captured our government.

    • Sandstone3

      Taking your second paragraph (which could be re-ordered of course) the data is transferred or sold and then the option to have the data erased is provided. The transfer/sale should not occur without permission.

  • Twinkie McGovern

    The private sector might not have an army or a jail system, but it does have these powers, all of which can be influenced by their access to my data:
    - The power to deny me a loan or a mortgage, or a job.
    - The power to charge me more than someone else based on my buying habits and assessed gullibility.
    - The power to create and sell a profile of my political beliefs.
    - The power to keep a dossier of who my friends are, and their friends.
    - Many many more…

    How long would it be before the RNC starts marketing to us based on this data? How long before the military tried to recruit our kids based on their high proficiency level in World of Warcraft?

    Also, anyone who says “OK, just don’t use the Internet” is living in a cartoon world. Can you imagine trying to get hired for a professional position (or indeed, just trying to maintain a social life) without some internet proficiency?

    • closetothetruth

      much of which, to both Madison and Jefferson, *would* seem like powers of the State.

  • Bill O’Brien

    I agree with mr. rosen about the extent of the problem. But, I don’t think a constitutional amendment is a good way to address it. Legislation would be better. What he’s proposing would be, in effect, an extension of the 4th amdt. to include private persons (including corp.s). The 4th amdt has been clarified by court ruling in criminal cases, for the most part. For the extended 4th amdt it would have to be clarified by litigation for moeny damages. Nobody would be happy with that except the lawyers.

  • Gary Spunt

    It’s true that many do not care whether their data is tracked by private entities, but why should that be the default for the entire populace ? An amendment with an explicit opt out for those who wish to be tracked would seem to satisfy the libertarian concerns.

  • Saighead

    Margaret Atwood sounds more and more prophetic…the corporatocracy is deploying all the gilded double speak they can muster to convince us they’re only interested in furnishing us “services”. I’m cheering on Jeffrey Rosen, and fear the corporate control of the internet FAR more than government surveillance. How is it people don’t see that the only constituency a corporation is legally bound to is its shareholders: the public users of Google, Facebook, et al are plant. Means to production.
    Already, we see corporations structuring the market, “paternalistically’ deciding for us who’s services/products are suitable for our consumption.

  • Jostrenz

    1. My data should be mine, i.e. I own them, so I should have the right to forbid whoever stores them to pass them on without my specific (not general) permission.
    2. I want to know, who has what and have the right to know, what is being done with them like who are they sold to. What is my electronic “profile”

    • Maureen Roy

      Except you don’t (on point 1) – any one you connect to on any site can share your information – the “permission” becomes theirs. This becomes a “chain of custody” legal issue….

  • J__o__h__n

    Privacy is either important or it isn’t. I can understand people holding either view. I don’t understand the people who only want to assert that it is when it is being violated by the government but not by private interests.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    It is a problem of BOTH government power and private power.

  • Anne

    Private companies aren’t government? PUH-LEEZ!! Anybody out there heard of A.L.E.C.? Anyone recall Citizens United decision granting free speech rights to corporations? Our so-called democracy is littered with examples of corporatocracy and we delude ourselves to think there’s separation between private and public domains.

    • Ray in VT

      Mr. Thierer has done work for ALEC.

  • closetothetruth

    NO, the problem is not (just) “government power.” Booz-Allen, Palantir and others sell and create the tools that the NSA uses. Does the George Mason professor want to ensure they have the power to create and sell these tools, which are deprived to the government?

  • ThirdWayForward

    Most right-wing libertarians understand fully the potential for state control, but they are usually completely blind to comparable power that is held in private hands.

    Threats to individual liberty arise whenever power becomes concentrated in the hands of the few.

    • closetothetruth

      it’s not like Google has military robots. oh, wait.

      • tbphkm33

        LOL – that was a good one.

  • TinaEm

    Thank you for this conversation! I am terrified that private for profit corporations are usurping the powers of the government and I am more terrified that this seems to be just fine with the American people!

  • ej

    Great topic!
    It’s naïve to assume that corporate capitalism isn’t inherently political. Sure, companies can’t jail us, etc. but the biggest ones benefit, currently, from a dominant political culture that favors their growth, which is also enriching the top sliver of our society. Lobbying for greater control over the net, for example, further limits individual freedoms both for entrepreneurship and for permitting a wider range of personal – which is also political – expressions. If and when it serves the corporate owners/shareholders — e.g.; the top sliver of society — to use our personal data for greater control and/or suppression – whether at the behest of the government (e.g.; after 9/11) or not — they will have the power to focus unwanted attention on any of us, according to the degree to which we’ve already given up the privileges of privacy. I don’t have enough info to argue for a Constitutional amendment, but we need governmental regulation precisely because we can’t individually defend ourselves if/when the day comes that some use of individual and/or meta data is implemented by a tech infrastructure we cannot defend ourselves against. Note that I have to go through a lot of hoops – via Facebook – to comment even on this program…

    • tbphkm33

      Don’t forget that a majority of American’s are currently in economic slavery to the corporations.

  • J__o__h__n

    I’m not supporting privacy invasion by the government, but at least they are ostensibly doing so for public safety. When we surrender our privacy to private companies what value do we get? Better targeted marketing?

    • tbphkm33

      I agree – the real scary story has always been how American’s are up in arms about giving government information, yet turn right around and hand out all their information to private corporations. Companies have limited interest in protecting your information – and no matter what they say, at the end of the day they will sell that information whenever it suits them.

  • Maureen Roy

    Don’t know where my comment went so re-doing it! BE AWARE that any app you use that triggers a privacy policy, whether on Facebook or a Google site or LinkedIn, typically states that you agree to share all information on your Friends (i.e., relational database connections). So even if you click Decline, any of your friends who click Accept are sharing your information on your behalf – and apparently have the legal right to do so. Most non tech savvy people just click their way through it without a thought…

  • CeCeBar

    The internet is a plaza, it is a public place, people should conduct themselves as such. Even though we access it from home (work even) it is public.

    Facebook or G+ are restaurants or clubs; and while we can keep certain content from prying eyes, we can still be seen in some ways, because we’re in a “club,” a public space, while communicating in a circle of friends.

    Certain areas of the internet are protected, like banks; and hackers and it professional try to keep others from robbing the bank.

    All the same rules that apply to being in a public space should apply online, from privacy to data collection. Yes data collection is far more easy to obtain… and in more detail, but entities have been tracking us since before the development of the internet.

    Tweaks here and there to the privacy rights we have thus far I believe would be enough for now.

    • closetothetruth

      that would work if we had any idea what they did with your data. we don’t.

      • CeCeBar

        Right, but any data gathered about us pre-internet we had no control over either… and mainly I’m speaking of marketing, business – selling stuff.

        We share so much about ourselves online, and right we don’t want it used against us or in ads, or other nefarious ways, and legal guidelines should be in place to protect us and to limit business.

        Facebook G+ or other similar media should make it easier for us to decide how our images/content should be used. Any particular pic of say family, you should be able to post it without it being used in a ad if you don’t want. While some wouldn’t care or would even welcome certain pics in ads.

        Would anyone believe we’d share as much as we do now on social media 20 years ago – overshare even.

        • tarryfaster

          What a terribly naive conversation!

          Suppose that, while you are in your “plaza” sipping a coffee, the government/corporations steal all of the contents of your wallet and/or purse, go to your house and download EVERYTHING that you have on your computer AND do the same for everyone else in that “plaza.”

          Then, at some point in the future, you are running for a public office and “they” threaten you with public disclosure of some/all of your deepest and most private “secrets” (affair(s), tax problem(s), article(s) on how to change the government, sexual orientation, court case(s), medical data, once had coffee in a “plaza” with a known terrorist, etc.).

          Can you imagine how vulnerable you could feel and thus intimidated into complying with whatever demands “they” would make on you? How do you think J. Edgar Hoover got and stayed in power for so long? Private information on others can be twisted more ways than can be imagined, with vast ramifications.

          • CeCeBar

            I think it seems naive because my metaphor is simple, that’s to make a point, and I believe you may be missing the point.

            Also, I don’t think we’re necessarily on different sides.

            The operative word you use is STEAL. Stealing is illegal, wherever you do it – the plaza, mall, club, or online!

            Stealing your private information didn’t start in the 90s either.

            So as I see it we’re further defining what is stealing — and as I indicated in my previous statement, “tweaking” our current laws of protection seems far more logical to me than a completely new amendment.

            Privacy, too, isn’t what it use to be 100 years ago, and will never be as such again.

            So much of this isn’t new as it is just different,

            …and hence my metaphor, the internet is a public place, we need to remember this, it just looks different to some of us.

    • Saighead

      Excellent points on civic behavior, all; with the caveat, regarding Facebook, etc as clubs (just to beat my favorite drum), that they are not purposed, principally, from Facebook’s POV, to serve us up “food”, but rather to dish us up to their clientele for consumption: their advertisers. If we’re going to regard them as legal entities-as-individuals, there need to be expectations of corporations to conduct themselves w/civic-mindedness, legally enforceable. Else they have no reason to do anything, or not do anything, that doesn’t serve to increase their retained earnings.

  • 65noname

    why does government radio pretend that it is hewing to the phoney policy of having a pro and con when it is simply giving space to guys like today’s rightwinger, a guy who ccontinuously spews out fanasty claims of the apopaclyse occurring. And guys like rosen have to spend their time countering obviously wrong factual scenerios instead of discussing tthe issue. And claiming someone such as brandeis opposed photography when he simply suggested that we think out the effects of technology. And, for instance, are the laws that prohibit tape recording someone without their permission “paternalistic”? Are laws prohibiting selling yourself to a private party as a slave “paternalistic”? Are laws that prohibit someone from breaking into your hous “paternalistic”? The rightwinger simply throws out horror stories without providing any basis in fact, and requires the opposing person to respond to what is factual nonesense. Surely there are people who oppose rosen’s idea but who will present honest argument.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      What is this “government radio” of which you speak?

      • Sandstone3


        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          National Public Radio is not run by the government.

          • Sandstone3

            partially funded by?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            I think the largest portion of their funding comes from listeners like you and me; followed by a portion coming from corporations and nonprofits, and then yes about 7% coming from the government.

          • Sandstone3

            Somehow, I think that’s what 65noname is referring to :)

          • 65noname

            your right. its controlled by the governement and corporations. if they don’t control it, how do you explain the examples that I presented previously. and how about frontline’s program on the koch bors and real estate being cancelled upon the demand of koch bros to the board of the NY public broadcasting entity?
            And, by the way, last year the government gave at least $400,000 to the corporation for public broadcasting. that is a lot of money buys a lot of control. not to meention thatt it exsits only pursuant to an act of congress.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            I would put it a bit differently: they bow to pressure from corporations and/or political entities too often. I’ve seen the Buster episode you referred to, actually; on air.

            Keep in mind, though that even though the Koch brothers contribute to NOVA, that show still talks about climate change, even though I’m sure the Kochs do not like this.

            $400,000 is not all that much money for the entire CPB. That is only about 7% of their overall budget, I think.

          • 65noname

            sorry. I meant $400,000,000. But I agree withb you that it is much more subtle than my screed put it. but the fact is that NPR doesn’t do anything that the government doesn’t want it to do. that doesn’t mean that government radio and NPR never disagree. It means that when the government puts it’s foot down, govt radio responds.
            And, yes, sometimes it take a position in opposition to the koch bros. (they actually focus more on creaating their own propaganda than stopping others). but when they told the NY station that produces frontline to cut the och program, it was cut. I don’t know whether the busterr program is the same one. but I agree that in today’s climate it would bee broadcast. But when it was supposed to be shown, when it wwould have really meant something, congress told them not to show it on the naational network and it wasn’t shown

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            The CPB is slightly different from PBS and NPR. The 2012 budget was ~$445M.

            I hope you’re not saying that climate change is propaganda …

          • 65noname

            unfortunately, it is all too real. I think that I would prefer that the koch bros were right on that one. Of course if it wasn’t caused by burning carbon, etc, then we would still have to figure out why there is so much climate change.
            I was loosly conflating CPB and NPR because I think that the saame issues apply to each in much the same way.

      • 65noname

        the government radio station that carries “on point”. the one that recieves a significant share of its money from the government and is controlled by the board of public broadcasting, the board that prevents any regular progressive point of view from being presented; that several years ago prevented a government TV children’s show from presenting an episode that centered on a vermont family farm because the family was headed by two lesbian women; that continually “investigates” stations present points of view that disagree with that of the israeli government. Etc, etc.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          They get ~7% of their funding from the government, as I understand it.

          • tbphkm33

            Are you serious, 7%!!! To a Boston radio station!!! That’s good money that could be sent to a Republican state where they receive more federal money than they pay in.

        • jefe68


  • mitspanner

    I managed my privacy quite well until the government started tying my Social Security number to everything. To my driver’s license, to my utility bills, to my bank account, to my credit accounts and even my fishing license. I had a private anonymous mail receiving service until 1999 when a federal law with the Orwellian name, Mailbox Privacy Protection Act, outlawed the practice. In a free society privacy seekers would have many more options. Instead, it’s just business as usual with the government weakening people’s rights so that their cronies in big business can prey on them.

    • Maureen Roy

      Fishing license….?! Wow. Hardly the initial intended purpose (unless you make your living as a fisherman). http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v69n2/v69n2p55.html

    • Steve__T

      Interesting, isn’t it, SS cards are not to be used as Identification. And say’s so on the card. So how did we get to this? Where it’s used for everything to identify us.

  • mitspanner

    Glad to hear the word libertarian used so frequently these days. 20 years ago you rarely heard it in the public discourse. In this program they were even careful to draw the distinction between civil libertarians and conservatives libertarians. I look forward to the day when an anarcho-libertarians and left-libertarians make it into the discussion. Let a thousand libertarian flowers blossom!

  • mitspanner

    I was saddened to hear Mr. Rosen mischaracterize Shays Rebellion. It was not, as commonly believed, a rebellion of debtors against lawful repayment of their obligations. It was about the domination of the Massachusetts legislature by elite business interests who use their power to manipulate the economy to their advantage. Sound familiar?
    See the 2005 book “Shays’s Rebellion: The American Revolution’s Final Battle” by U Mass prof Leonard L Richards.

  • wanderingi

    What could possibly go wrong, if we lose our right to explicitly grant permission to collect our personal or Metadata. Oh, something like this, perhaps: http://www.freepress.net/blog/2014/01/21/information-counter-revolution

  • bob

    Greatly enjoyed the discussion today on privacy matters. That is, except for the mindless talking points spewed out by “professor” Adam Thierer, who contributed nothing of value, but brimmed over with inexplicable self-confidence and rectitude. I have no idea who this guy is, but I hope never have to listen to him again in any setting. Jeff Rosen was thoughtful and made, in my view, important points about the present dangers to privacy. Thierer sounds more like a paid hack, combining the usual themes of the Chamber of Commerce and Tea Part zealots.

    • Chris Carlin

      Are you kidding? Thierer utterly eviscerated Rosen’s argument, showing that Rosen’s claims are groundless and misguided.

  • tarryfaster

    The elephant in the room — that rarely gets discussed — is the fact that corporations now run our government!

    The merge began in 1886, when corporations broke out of their previously severe legal restraints and began their relentless march to become “people.” Today, our political, legal, voting, media, military, financial, environmental, medical, educational, prison, food, energy, et al., systems have all been throughly subjugated to the will of the incredible sociopathic and eternal monetary powers of the big corporations.

    We, the people, have NO recourse left to us! We are just so many Consumer Units to be manipulated and/or restrained while our life essence is drained away for “their” internationally suicidal demands for PROFIT at ANY cost.

    • Labropotes

      We could vote for different legislators. Unless you blame our stupidity on corporations, you’re putting the cart before the horse.

      • tarryfaster

        You didn’t seem to notice that I included our voting systems as one, of many, of our critical systems that have been taken over by the corporations — through gerrymandering, voter suppression and Election Fraud.

        However, when it gets down to the makeup of the individuals who control the corporations, take a look at these sites and you’ll find the ultimate problem that has faced mankind for as long as we have kept records –


        • Labropotes

          I saw that. I have my suspicions you are correct. And per Noam Chomsky, if you want to predict American policy in anything, poll the rich, not the whole population.

          But I also think that huge portions of our population don’t have a clue how to take care of themselves, and moving people from the labor force to government dependency is more important to electoral success than winning the support of Corporations.

          That said, I could give a long list of government officials and corporate officers that I would like to see executed. I am on your side.

          • Chris Carlin

            Well that’s silly.

            Every election cycle shows examples where rich, well-funded candidates lose. I certainly suspect the policies of many northeastern politicians are opposed by the rich who are set to lose out. Meanwhile, the observed flight of the rich from states and countries with anti-rich policies sort of put the nail in that theory.

            Noam Chomsky is one of those really stupid smart people. His proclamations are easily debunked an amazingly high amount of the time.

          • Labropotes

            Chris, the rich are hugely benefited by Fed money printing, free trade, and government protected monopolies. Do the poor cry out for inflation, or is that Hank Paulson and Paul Krugman?

            The welfare state is the bread, and the internet is the circus, distracting the mass of Americans from their decline, while the rich and savvy grinches export that last decorations from the tree of liberty.

            Noam is very often wrong, but he has been calling the US an empire since at least the late 50′s, and saying that a liberal commercial democracy cannot exist as an empire. In this, he seems to me to be woefully right.

          • Chris Carlin

            The poor help elect the officials who implement these policies.

            Sometimes the policies benefit the rich; sometimes they harm the rich. But always the government officials who enact the policies were empowered by all of society, rich and poor alike.

            That poor people shoot themselves in the foot by empowering officials who work against their interests is a different problem entirely.

          • Labropotes

            All you say is a part of the truth. Another part is that if the poor get a raw deal they will cut your throat. Imagine your surprise at that after a lifetime of repeating the formulae you learned from Milton Friedman and John Galt.

            I’m very sympathetic to your view, I just think you have too much faith in the fabric of society, in the idea that most, or even very many, share your standards or morality.

          • Chris Carlin

            There are two sides to it. One side is that our system lets people do stupid things that make them feel good so as to let them feel empowered and all, even if they’re hanging themselves.

            The other side is that our system was designed with a limited government to keep the poor from being able to hang themselves in the first place.

            Those two sides in conflict maintain this mediocrity, but at least hopefully avoid the uprising.

            (or maybe not hopefully, depending on your stance)

      • tbphkm33

        It is highly questionable if the USA can any longer be changed through the current system. The corruption is ripe and special interests are entrenched. More-and-more intellectuals and thinkers are coming to the conclusion that the oligarchy that has gotten its claws into the halls of power in the United States can only be displaced through revolution – the question remains, what kind of revolution? Revolutions range from peaceful to open civil strife. Look for the US to be somewhere in between.

        • tarryfaster

          Perhaps, if we can take just one, critical, nonpartisan, issue — like testing socio/psychopaths — and create a single, all inclusive movement composed of a coalition of all the other movements, we could at least rid ourselves of these mentally defective, out-of-control individuals … and in the process realize the power of unified masses.

        • Labropotes

          I agree that that is possibly the situation and I do expect some kind of political discontinuity in the United States. But I don’t think it’s necessary if we would just hold our elected officials and our business people to account when they obviously lie. We could turn the ship without taking on more water.

          I’ve really enjoyed your comments lately, btw.

    • Chris Carlin

      Wow. That’s quite the conspiracy theory you’re laying out there…

      • tarryfaster

        Chris, it is neither a conspiracy nor a theory — just facts … which seem foreign, to you. Should you be interested in more facts, let me know and I’ll email them to you.

        • Chris Carlin

          Very literally, tarryfaster, you’ve laid out a conspiracy. Multiple corporations working together to control government. That’s a conspiracy. That’s what “conspiracy” means.

          In any case, keep in mind that profit is what someone makes when they benefit someone else. Again, that’s what “profit” means.

          So if this conspiracy of companies are making profit it means they’re serving customers well. More power to ‘em!

          • tarryfaster

            I’m VERY aware of the definition for “conspiracy” and I don’t doubt that various corporations have, and do, conspire to have governments do their bidding. However, when the phrase, “conspiracy theory” is tossed out, it generally implies that the person putting forth a relatively radical concept feels that THEY are the focus of the term.

            “Profit” is the balance that is left after expenses are subtracted from sales.

            So, do you believe that if a group of oil executives from several oil companies get together to fix oil prices, the “profits” that they accrue — as a result of that meeting (expense) — are serving the public/customers (not to mention the environment)?

          • Chris Carlin

            Yes. They get money by providing oil to the people at prices the people find acceptable. Therefore, their profits are necessarily gained through serving the public/customers.

            This is undeniable.

          • tarryfaster

            I’m amazed at how incredibly simplistic and naive your perspective is! Have you not heard of (and/or comprehend the ramifications of) the terms — price fixing, competitive pricing, market dominance, regulated free market and monopolistic practices?

            When companies illegally fix prices, they are NOT providing their goods & services in a competitive format and are thus depriving the buying public of the option of procuring the most competitive products/services. Completely antithetical to the basic tenets of capitalism!

            Furthermore, when a single company or a business sector gains market advantage through any number of illegal means of thwarting governmental regulation (for example bribery, extortion, coercion, intimidation, quid quo pro, etc.) then not only is the regulated free marketplace corrupted, but the political environment, as well. Rather than having a state regulated by law, there then exists corruption leading to anarchy. The “illegal” drug industry is a perfect example.

            To gain some slight awareness of the financial differential between these powerful private and government forces, visit one of my websites:

            And, should you wish to gain more insight into the history of corporatism in this country, visit one of my oldest websites on that topic:

          • Chris Carlin

            And yet, putting aside all those politicized terms, a transaction only happens when both parties agree to it.

            Which is to say, a person will only buy something when the price is agreeable. By definition.

            The rest is a distraction from that fundamental element of economics.

          • tarryfaster

            What is the matter with you? You seem to be mentally defective and fully fixated on the world view of a stunted 12 year old.

            Those are NOT “politicized terms,” but instead highly relevent ECONOMIC TERMS and, until you gain (and acknowledge) some comprehension as to their significance to this dumbed down dialog, I can see no point in continuing.

            Did you even bother to visit the two sites I last posted?

          • Chris Carlin

            Ah: devolved to namecalling, I see.

            What’s the matter with me is that I see two people voluntarily coming to an agreement and think that’s pretty cool.

            Heaven forbid.

            While you’re insisting on getting caught up in all this drama, this political view of things, where you digress into backroom deals, counter realities of other deals, and politics of imposing your values upon the deal such that it would have occurred in ways that more suit your personal tastes…. and then you insist that the observation of two people working to mutual benefit is the wrong way of looking at it.

            So yeah. What’s the matter with me is that I’m interested in what is, not what your politicized view of things would prefer it be.

  • Eric Reagan

    This issue does not divide along the axis of government vs. business as the conservative guest ruminated on this morning’s show. It runs along the Big Business vs. the private citizen axis (with Big Business much more aligned and influential with government than the private citizen).

    The line is increasingly being blurred between government and business as time goes on. Privatization of intelligence work, security, prison system and social services are all the government/private industry “marriage issues” du jour. Add on top of that the federal government requiring companies that deal in the “currency” of data/info of consumers to hand over information. Then, add on top of that the specter of employees of private contractors privy to private citizen’s personal information (re: Snowden’s access revelations).

    There is no longer a distinct line between government and corporate America. That’s just on the operational side. On the legal side, corporations have the lawyers and lobbyists to continue to galvanize this power partnership — as evidenced through Citizen’s United, the rise of astroturf Tea Party and other conservative Congress members (and voters at large) who believe that government is suspect, but don’t you dare limit the power of Big Business.

    The private citizen has a lot of reason to be wary of both the government (in regards to the NSA and other intelligence apparati) and corporate entities.

    • tbphkm33

      “Small government” by its very nature means governance by the rich and the powerful. The Nopublican’s are falling over themselves to be governed by corporations.

      • Guest

        But Eric… everything you just laid out is due to bad governance.

        When government allies with private companies, that doesn’t blur the line. That just pulls more under the umbrella of government.

    • Chris Carlin

      But Eric… everything you just laid out is due to bad governance.

      When government allies with private companies, that doesn’t blur the line. That just pulls more under the umbrella of government

      • Eric Reagan

        Would you consider private prisons ‘under the umbrella of government’? They are private contractors. They lobby state and national legislators to make laws that are favorable to keeping all of the prison beds full. They go to local and state governments and pitch their sell. They are separate from government — but they are doing the government’s job. Why is that bad? Because they are only making a profit if law enforcement is arresting and convicting a ever-growing population of potential inmates. Whereas, government has the interest of making sure LESS people commit crimes, LESS people arrested, convicted and incarcerated.

        So, the interests of the two are at odds. Government (when doing “good governance’) is balancing protecting society, deterring crime and saving taxpayer money. The private contractor always has the interest of spending more of taxpayers’ money.

        Experience has shown us that private contractors are NOT more efficient. They cost taxpayers MORE money and they don’t have a dispassionate, unbiased approach — that government, by itself (when doing the job right, which is more the case than not) is obliged to the citizenry to do.

        • Chris Carlin

          OF COURSE private prisons are under the umbrella of government. As you point out, they lobby government, and what they’re lobbying for is to be taken in under that umbrella.

          In the end no private party can force the government to do anything. If someone gains a perk it’s because government handed that perk to them. Everything related to the government happens at the pleasure of the government.

          You’re welcome to dislike how government uses private contractors, and I might even agree with you on that, but we can’t pretend that’s not government making it happen.

          • Eric Reagan

            “In the end no private party can force the government to do anything. If someone gains a perk it’s because government handed that perk to them. Everything related to the government happens at the pleasure of the government.”

            Wrong. Government serves the people — not its own pleasure. We decide what we want government to do. When we allow businesses to take over government functions and to decide how things work — it’s not being “under the umbrella of government”, it is allowing government to be run by business. To call the shots. Using your analogy, government then becomes “under the umbrella” of business.

            If we are not wary of tyranny, we are not doing our due diligence a citizens of a democratic republic. If we allow businesses to run our lives (as a part of government and for their own profit), then we are not doing due diligence and we will repeat the past when corporate entities have tried to run the world. Guess what? It didn’t turn out very well.

            To see it as either/or — “business good, government bad” — is simplistic. The tea party element does not understand the complexities of what makes a government tyrannical or not, or, how the economy works.

            On the same note, those who think that mining people’s personal information is OK because — business! don’t get that the right to privacy is a real element of our nation and that the right to allow that data to businesses is the right of the individual.

            On top of that, corporations being an individual is ludicrous. A corporation is owned by real individuals with a governing body recognized by the federal government. One more reason to be wary of them.

          • Chris Carlin

            Who decided we can decide what government should do?


            Remember, even the Constitution is a government document.

            Companies can only mine peoples’ personal information when people agree to it. Often people ASK companies to do it.

            What you’re proposing DISEMPOWERS people to make such arrangements with business, as the second guest explained in this segment.

          • Eric Reagan

            “Who decided we can decide what government should do?


            No WE decided that. WE fought for that. WE created the government.

            “Companies can only mine peoples’ personal information when people agree to it. Often people ASK companies to do it.”

            No, they go ahead and mine your data whether you want them to or not. So does the NSA.

            Passively allowing a company or government to run roughshod over your rights is hardly the definition of “empowerment”.

          • Chris Carlin


            You think you have a right to tell a phone company that they can’t monitor their own SwitchGear2000 computer that routes phone calls through their own system?

          • Eric Reagan

            They can monitor whatever they like — as long as it doesn’t infringe on my rights. Once they do that, yes I do have a right to tell them they can’t do something.

          • Chris Carlin

            Correct. And since you have no right to their property, your rights aren’t infringed upon when they monitor their own property, and you have no business insisting that they don’t monitor what they own.

          • Eric Reagan

            Is your car your property or the highway departments? It’s moving along their highway. Do they own it? They have a right to monitor for speed so that you don’t harm or kill anyone by breaking the law — but, they can’t simply search your car because you are on a road they own. They don’t own your car because you travel on their road. Likewise, the telephone company doesn’t own your telephone conversation because it’s on their lines, the US Postal service doesn’t own your mail because you send through them to be delivered.

            The only difference is that what you send on the internet is electronic and not a car or a letter. Just because the US Postal Service owns the facilities that deliver the mail — doesn’t give them the right to monitor your mail. They can in specific, legal situations only. That’s not what you’re advocating.

            According to the reasoning to which you subscribe, the postal service has the right to read your mail and sell that information to third parties so that they have a better idea how to target advertising or actually directly sell services to you.

          • Chris Carlin

            Exactly. And these tech companies aren’t breaking into your phone; they’re simply monitoring their own equipment, just as a city can monitor use of the highways they own.

          • Eric Reagan

            Wrong. They can only monitor how fast you are going, for the sake of safety. They can not monitor who is in your car, where you are going or what you are carrying unless there is reasonable cause to believe you are committing a crime.

          • Chris Carlin

            Sure they can.

            And why shouldn’t they be able to? Those are their roads, so they get to set the policy for use on their own roads.

            Just like you can set the policy as to who does what in your own house, and government can set the policy about what happens on their own roads, and phone companies can monitor their own damn equipment.

            Because that’s what ownership is about.

            It’s their property and they can log how it’s functioning as much as they want. If you don’t like it, you’re free to not involve yourself with them.

            Just like if I don’t like your house rules I’m free not to come over, and if I don’t like the rules of the road I’m free not to drive.

            Ownership. It’s this crazy thing we’re doing these days.

          • Eric Reagan

            Wrong. There is a difference between traffic laws and how you drive — and, where you’re going, what’s in your car and who is with you. Just because the road is the property of the state does not mean they have the legal right search every car on the roadway.

            They can only monitor for safety reasons only or in the event of reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed. They certainly can not take information about your car, the contents or passengers and sell it to third-party entities.

            Because I own the house you enter — doesn’t give me the right to make you hand over your wallet, your phone or other articles for me to inspect. I can prohibit you from entering my house or bringing substances or materials — but, I don’t have the right to physically search you. Ownership does not preclude violating others’ rights on the merit of ownership alone.

          • Chris Carlin

            They don’t search the cars. The monitor their roadways, because they own their roadways, just as the companies monitor their equipment because they own their equipment.

            In the end, your perspective flies in the face of the very notion of property rights. Your position involves you claiming a right over other peoples’ property, and that ain’t cool. It violates other peoples’ rights.

          • Eric Reagan

            You miss that you have private property on that public roadway. That’s not claiming a right over other’s property — that’s claiming the right over yours.

            The difference being, the monitoring that the state is allowed to do has to do with public safety. Conversely, companies are doing the opposite, they are taking the actual information of your data (the equivalent of monitoring what’s inside the car) — not just how fast you are going or if your following public safety laws.

            It is different because they are monitoring people’s content, not just where they are going. That’s true for commercial interests and the NSA.

            It’s interesting that you take the position that the private citizen is violating the rights of business or the state — simply because they own infrastructure that you use, while you think that, basically, the private individual has no right to privacy (unless they choose to not drive, communicate, purchase items or be entertained).

          • Chris Carlin

            Of course you have private property, and because it is your private property you have the right to use it to satisfy agreements with others, whether that be agreements involving others’ roadways or a telcom’s equipment.

            Companies don’t take “information of your data” that you don’t give them willingly.

            After all, even when you make a phone call you are willingly handing the phone company your data that they are then passing to other people. You’re welcome not to do that, but you do anyway.

          • Eric Reagan

            Wrong. The phone company is not entitled to the contents of your phone call. They will only divulge to law enforcement the content if and only if there is a search warrant. This goes back to the Fourth Amendment. They certainly can not eaves drop on you for any commercial reason.

            Internet providers are no different.

          • Chris Carlin

            You say that, and yet when you make a phone call you are literally handing them the content.

            They can’t transmit what they don’t have, after all.

            So yes, they are entitled to the content of your phone call. If they weren’t entitled to it, the phone system would not work. At all. Because there would be no content to relay.

          • Eric Reagan

            Transmission of content is not ownership of content anymore than driving on a road entitles the state to your car or its content. That it is illegal and there is a LOT of legal precedent for why you can’t do it.

            I suggest that instead of continuing to argue that which you don’t understand — you should google “illegal search and seizure” and “private property rights” and do a little research.

            This is the last I’m “conversating” on this. You need to do some research on some real fallacies about the law, privacy and property that you’ve stated.

          • Chris Carlin

            But Eric, you are effectively arguing for seizing the phone companies’ property, telling them they cannot use their switching equipment that they paid for, that they maintain, that they operate on the customers’ behalf. That they cannot use it as they wish because it doesn’t match your personal preferences.

            You don’t seem to understand that you’re pushing for the violation of rights here.

            This isn’t simply about whether to support the customer’s rights or not; it’s about whether to intrude on the rights of someone to use their equipment to serve others against a simple preference of a subset of the people being served.

          • Eric Reagan

            AMENDMENT IV
            The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

          • Chris Carlin

            Exactly. So stop violating other peoples’ property by claiming it as your own, demanding that they don’t do things with what they own that you, personally, disapprove of.

            The 4th Amendment is a direct argument against your perspective.

          • Eric Reagan

            This amendment was written to protect the individual citizen and their interests from the government and other entities. I’m not advocating that private individuals, commercial interests or the government violate anybody else’s right to privacy. You are.

            I can demand that you not do something that violates my privacy, and that, is not violating your privacy for me to make that demand. Considering that it’s a constitutionally protected right — yes, I can make that demand.

            Again, just because you *own something doesn’t give you a special privilege to violate my right to privacy. If I want you to breach my privacy, I will let you know.

          • Chris Carlin

            Oh, no, you are doing exactly that.

            The phone company has a right to privacy about what it does with its own equipment status information. You’re advocating that they lose that right to privacy, that they lose the right to monitor their own property.

          • Eric Reagan

            You’re trying to say that a telephone company can do whatever they want with your data because they own the infrastructure. That’s false. If a telephone company did that and used that as a defense, they would certainly be prosecuted for it. They can not eaves drop on your conversation simply because they own the phone lines and the switchboards. There’s not a court in the land that would sanction such an argument.

          • Chris Carlin

            Yes, courts do wrong things all the time. They’re only human, after all. History is strewn with courts violating peoples’ rights.

            From Kelo through NSA-supporting rulings, 4th Amendment rights are always in jeopardy. That courts would intrude on a phone company’s rights to use its own equipment as it sees fit–violating 4th Amendment rights in the process–is not surprising.

            That doesn’t mean you should encourage the violation.

          • Eric Reagan

            Aha! You’ve just exposed that you understand and accept my argument (even though you think you’re not).

            No telephone company can or will compromise you privacy ON ITS OWN without a warrant. Whether that warrant violates the 4th amendment is completely another matter. BUT, from the telephone company’s point of view: IT HAS NO CHOICE but to comply with a warrant.

            That said, if the telephone company did that on its own, no court in the land could find them ‘not guilty’. If that happened, the ruling would be appealed all the way up — and you know it. So, cite one case where that has been allowed to stand — YOU CAN’T.

            I’m saying no telephone company is gong to take that up mining your data ON ITS OWN. no telephone company is gong to take that up mining your data FOR ITS OWN COMMERCIAL PURPOSES, AS A BUSINESS.

            See, you DO GET that, whether the government or business, it’s a violation of your 4th amendment right to privacy — my original point.

            Because, you see, your right to privacy is not a protection just against the government — it’s a protection from ANY entity that will try to violate your right to privacy.

            So, once again, go do your homework.

          • Chris Carlin

            Funny: I point out that courts do wrong pretty often and you reply by citing things courts do.

            Either way, sure phone companies mine “your data” for their own commercial purposes. How do you think they know where to increase switch capacity? They don’t guess; they record and analyze traffic on their switches.

            So you start by citing an authority I just dismissed as flawed and continue on to a factually incorrect claim.

            You’re not doing so well here…

          • Eric Reagan

            You’re STILL confusing speed, capacity and direction with content. Controlling traffic and increasing infrastructure capability (the “how”) does not equal controlling the “who” or “what” (content).

            NO, telephone companies DO NOT monitor the contents of phone calls to figure out what their capabilities need to be to handle volume. That’s true for telephone companies or highways.

            The fact that you stop at the word “court” without considering what’s being said means that you are being closed-minded to another point of view — not able to think out the reasoning of another to see how your argument might have holes in it. That doesn’t serve your point of view one bit.

            But, that you don’t get there’s no difference to the threat to your rights from both government and big business, and, that this was a major concern of the framers of the constitution — appears as a lost cause on you. There’s nothing more I can say. You’re too obtuse in your reasoning for any argument to get through.

          • Chris Carlin

            Sure they monitor content. Modern switching equipment involves data compression algorithms such that capacity of lines is tied to content, not just frequency of requests.

            Not that there’s a distinction. I’d paraphrase you to say you’re still drawing the arbitrary distinction between different types of information.

            Effectively you’re claiming that they don’t analyze information other than the information that they analyze… which doesn’t actually progress your argument even if it was true.

            Moving on with more paraphrasing: The fact that you’re stopping at the word “court” without considering what’s being said–you merely cited them authoritatively–shows that you’re being closed-minded to another point of view — not able to think out the reasoning of another to see how your argument might have holes in it.

          • Mike Ciolino

            It’s important to define what is meant by content – The most valuable information that can be collected is meta data – whether an email or phone, information about that email/call i the meta data is the gold. So yes the phone company absolutely does mine and collect your personal data. More info on meta data here:


      • Eric Reagan

        So, what I’m saying is, the more you try to get private industries to do jobs that should be done by government, you blur the lines between government and business. When you allow businesses to give unlimited (and undisclosed) contributions to lawmakers who get elected and then do the bidding of these corporate donors — you blur the lines between government and business. When you allow these behemoths to write the legislation that favors them over the actual “real” individual citizens — you blur the lines between government and business.

        Blurring lines between government and business isn’t democracy — that’s oligarchy.

        • Chris Carlin

          That’s what you’re saying, and you’re wrong.

          When business takes on a government project, that’s still a government project. There is no blurred line.

          If you want lawmakers who don’t accept money from businesses, then elect such people. Refuse to vote for any who does accept contribution.

          It’s not business’ fault that we elect people who will take their money.

          • Eric Reagan

            It’s a blurred line because the interests are not the same. The government’s interest is to NOT make a profit and to spend the taxpayer’s money wisely. A private contractor’s interest is to make a profit and to spend as much of taxpayer’s money as they can get their hands on.

            “It’s not business’ fault that we elect people who will take their money.”

            You mean like Citizen’s United? Lobbying being a multi-million dollar industry?

          • Chris Carlin

            Businesses don’t spend so much money lobbying for the fun of it. They spend it because government holds all the cards and businesses can only ask for favors.

            That government all too often gives.

            There is no blurred line. Government’s interests are the ones that are pursued, and if we elect people who think government’s interest is giving money to businesses, then that’s what we get.

            Also, with all the unwise spending in government I suspect your perspective about government’s interests is a bit strained…

          • Eric Reagan

            Government holds the cards — well, that’s changing and business doesn’t want it that way. THEY want to hold the cards — they want it to be government for the businesses, by the businesses and of the businesses. And, all you’ll be is their servant (instead of the other way around).

          • Chris Carlin

            It doesn’t matter one whit whether businesses want government to hold the cards. Because government holds the cards.

            One advantage of holding all the cards is that you get to hold them even if others don’t like it.

          • Eric Reagan

            Good thoughtful ‘debate’, Chris. Enjoyed it! Thanks. Cheers!

  • tarryfaster

    Of course! Jest like Gandhi in India and Mandela in S. Africa. Them damn pantywaist intellectuals an East Coast Liberals are ALWAYS messin’ up a good whoopin’.

  • Adam DerMarderosian

    Think about this in another well known and much debated context. If I decided to follow you around and make a movie about your life and the things that you do and say for my personal gain. If it’s in your name and not altered to make it an artistic interpretation. Are you telling me you have no rights to that?

  • Chris Carlin

    People aren’t more alarmed because (as was covered very well in this episode) you don’t have to do business with any private company.

    Only the government can force you to interact with it and be subject to its mandates.

  • Chris Carlin

    It’s always missed that private companies don’t collect this data just for fun. They don’t go through the trouble of collecting and sorting this data for no good reason. Instead, they collect it because it helps them better serve their customers.

    We all benefit from companies being free to offer us goods and services, and their ability to collect information is a positive thing!

    • Eric Reagan

      That’s all fine — but you should have the choice to use electronic devices without having your data tracked and mined if that’s what you so desire. It shouldn’t be default, automatic that your data is mined. They should have to get your express consent.

      • Chris Carlin

        Why should you? These switches, these servers, the manpower, the operation, all of that belong to the company who is providing you a service.

        Why should you be able to tell them what they can’t do with their own equipment? Why should you have the right to use the force of government to impose your personal opinion about privacy on their use of their equipment?

        If you don’t like the service being offered by the company–including its keeping of data–then don’t use their service. It’s bizarre to assert a right to force a company to offer its services as per your personal convictions.

        • Eric Reagan

          So, you should have to go to the grocery store or a restaurant and be served — not what you want but what they want you to have? After all, it’s their store and their equipment. So, you’d be alright with that?

          A company does not own my phone, my computer, my car or anything else I purchase. I do. Just because you invest in equipment to gather my information — doesn’t automatically give you the right to use that equipment on me. You have to ask my permission. If you are don’t get my permission and you mine my data, you are stealing from me.

          Do these companies allow me to mine their data? To know who they do business with, behind the scenes? How much they spend on materials, equipment and labor? Only if they want you to know (for their purposes only). If you mine that data and get caught, guess what? You’re engaging in industrial espionage and you will be prosecuted.

          So, why do they enjoy legal protection of private information — but, you and I don’t? Just because they invested money into it to make money? Big deal. Investing money doesn’t mean you get to trample real individual citizens’ rights. But, because the lines between government and business have been blurred — there are those in government who think it’s perfectly alright for a corporation to get hold of your information, but not the other way around.

          How is it fair and just that corporate entities can do that to you but you can’t do the same to them? Starting to see the blurring of lines, the takeover of our government by big business now?

          It’s not about my personal convictions it’s about every US citizen’s constitutionally protected right to privacy.

          • Chris Carlin

            That analogy is spot on.

            Would demand that a pizza place serve sushi? Would you use laws to force all pizza places to sell sushi just because it’s not proper, in your opinion, that pizza places don’t serve it?

            That’s exactly what you’re doing here. You think it’s improper that companies don’t offer service without keeping records, so you want to use law to force that new option.

            Just like forcing a pizza place to offer the option of sushi.

          • Eric Reagan

            No, it’s the restaurant deciding what I want to eat before I walk in the door I object to — because they have access to information based on what my data suggests to them. I don’t want to have businesses second-guessing me based on information I don’t want them to have to begin with. That’s my right. There is no constitutionally protected right to mine private data. That’s the difference.

          • Chris Carlin

            Absolutely. And that’s how restaurants work.

            The pizza place decided you want pizza, so that’s what they’re offering. If they were wrong, you don’t have to go in.

            If you don’t want a business’s services because they collect data, then don’t go in.

            But passing laws to force businesses to offer what you personally think they should offer–whether sushi or log-less service–is silly.

          • Eric Reagan

            The pizza place, in the traditional market place, is HOPING you want a pizza. They don’t know that you do. That’s where making a really good pizza and doing good marketing comes in.

            If corporations get as much power as they want, they will not only interpret you want based on your data, they will have you believing that whatever they want to sell you is what you want. And then, bye bye really good pizza. They will no longer have to work hard to sell you what they hope you will buy. They’ll have you believing that they they are all powerful and all-knowing — so they KNOW what you need or want. And, you’ll believe them.

          • Chris Carlin

            But that’s exactly what’s happening here too. These companies are HOPING you want their services. They don’t know that you do.

            If you don’t want their services for whatever reason, then you’re free not to use them.

            Just as you’re free not to walk in to the pizza place because you want sushi, and they don’t serve sushi.

            Your leap from companies monitoring their own servers to their ability to implement mind control is a bit… well, crazy.

          • Eric Reagan

            A lot of things seem crazy to a lot of people — until they figure out that that’s the case. The power of suggestion through media is nothing new. Subliminal messaging as well as designers and ad producers employing the use of psychological triggers — color, specific poses of people in relation to products and other people and specific use of wording.

            This is well-known, scientifically studied and universally employed (to lesser or greater extent).That is definitely “mind control” whether you think it is benign or not. People already are emotionally manipulated to want to buy products. We’ve all experienced it. That’s all fine and all — “buyer beware” and all of that.

            Now, we have devices — which only have value to you, the consumer, because they have a memory (the ability to keep track of your past actions with the device). Now, if want your device to be hooked up to algorithms that take your information and generate lists of products and services based on that, yes (as I’ve said before) you should have the choice to have that as a service to you.

            What I’m saying is that it shouldn’t by default, it should be by choice. If you want that service (and you are proof that there those who do) — then, by golly, you should have that choice. But, just as I shouldn’t have to receive Time Magazine if I don’t want it, neither should I have to receive a computer or person’s idea of what I want BASED ON EAVES DROPPING.

            If I want eaves dropping and commentary by that eaves dropper — then I have the ability to welcome that. If I don’t want that — it’s a violation to my right to privacy.

            And that, Chris, is what it’s about. Privacy, not “mind control”. Because someone is trying to second-guess what I want based on looking at my “business” online. Like I said that before, if you do that to the very corporations who set all this up — you’d be prosecuted for it. So, explain why they deserve having their data protected from you — but, you don’t, from them.

            On top of that, the fact that they don’t want to give you the choice on this is paternalistic. It’s saying, “we know better than you what information you should take in”. It’s saying, “you don’t need choice; your having a choice could hurt our bottom line — and our desire to have a healthy profit is more important than your rights to privacy and choice”.

            You want that, you should have the choice to always be told what you want and I should have the choice to not have that. It’s that simple — and it doesn’t matter that they own the servers with information coursing through them. Do state highway departments or private parking garages get to go through your car simply because you’re using the highway or the garage? Of course not — even if it was for the seemingly benign purpose of trying to sell you products or services.

          • Chris Carlin

            You don’t have to participate in any service you don’t want to participate in.

            If you don’t like the phone company monitoring their equipment as it serves you, then don’t ask it to serve you.

            You already have your wish: by default you’re not being monitored. It’s only when you begin interacting with the company–overriding the default–that they have any information to collect from their own equipment.

          • Chris Carlin

            To handle the other part of your comment, you have your facts wrong.

            If you acquire a phone and leave it powered down in the drawer, no data is collected. The only data that’s collected is about THE COMPANY’S equipment, not your phone.

            Factually, they’re not keeping data about YOU. They’re keeping records about the state of their own equipment, which circuits in their equipment are active and for how long.

            What you’re suggesting are laws that bar a company from keeping logs of their own property. It’s an intrusion into their rights.

    • tarryfaster

      Hey folks, I just figured it out!

      “Chris Carlin” is a corporate/government shill! Don’t waste your time bantering with this idiot, as he has the robotic mentality of a corporate controlled fascist government stooge … may even be computer generated.

  • Mike Ciolino

    Eric sorry man but you are on the wrong side of this one – You’re not alone however – I think most people are just now getting a grip on this issue.

    We live in a country where people feel that they are entitled to have things that they deem necessary to live their lives.

    A good analogy for this would be — Say we were neighbors in a very hot climate and I had a pool and you did not. So I say hey Eric – You and your family can use my pool whenever you like indefinitely as long as you agree that I can take any photos I want to use in my artwork any way I see fit. (say I’m an artist) And we sign a legal document giving me all rights and ownership.

    After a while you and you family come to rely on that pool to cool off on a daily basis and you can’t imagine life without it. However you have learned that I am distorting the images of your family and making a ton of money on them – And even though we have an agreement, you argue that you have the right to use my pool and you have the right to have a say in what photos of your family I can use – Even though that was not what we agreed to.

    This is the same thing. You feel (incorrectly) that you have a right to restrict what Google and Facebook are doing with your data, even though you willfully and legally agreed to the terms (your fail if you didn’t read the terms and agreement) You feel that you are entitled to dictate how they operate their business.

    I understand why you are upset from a privacy point of view – And you have the power to stop using their services and right to start a campaign to have others do the same thing. But not a right to tell them how they can operate.

    Ever felt a company owed you a refund and they say no? It’s infuriating but they ultimately can do what they want.

    • Chris Carlin

      I’d simply add, say the ton of money the pool owner was making was going back into the pool, adding water slides and some of that new fangled, non-irritating pool water.

      That’s what’s really happening here. Goolgle and facebook don’t process content for fun; they do it because it allows them to serve the customers better.

    • tarryfaster

      Let’s use a different analogy:

      Imagine that you live in the suburbs of a town that decides to have an open town party. You decide to go and meet your friends and neighbors. You find that the most expedient way to get there and back is by taking a government subsidized, private toll road. So, you use the toll road to go to the party and after you get back home, you find that someone has stolen your identity and turned all of your private data over to multiple government agencies AND they are ALL now secretly tracking EVERYTHING you (and your friends/neighbors) do … FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE/LIVES!


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