The American public finds itself in an odd predicament. The two major institutions in our lives -- the government and corporations -- have both shown themselves to be entirely untrustworthy. The former is untrustworthy because they crave power...and wealth, while the latter is untrustworthy because they crave wealth...and power. It begs the question: Who do you trust less now?
We've learned recently (or had confirmed) that our own government is spying on us. Suspicion, guilt or innocence doesn't matter. If you live in the US, some form of the government is doing their damnedest to peek under the covers. At the very same time, they are doing everything in their power to keep what they are doing in our names from us. Our lives have become an open book; their lives have become a closed book.
Not only are they snooping into every corner of our lives, but they have shown time and time again that they don't represent us. Money rules politics and so their sole goal as representatives of the people simply is to serve those who write the biggest checks. Who writes the biggest checks? Those connected to multinational corporations!
Some of these mega corporations are in the communications biz. They are acting indignant that the recent NSA revelations are informing the public that they -- more often than not -- are in bed with the government snoops. "We only do what they make us do," they cry. "Your privacy is our primary concern."
This from an industry that regularly snoops on consumers on its own? Even if our government was populated by saints who would never in one million years think of spying on its own citizens, computer and internet companies have been doing this for years! Back in 2007, Computerworld's Jaikumar Vijayan wrote about the snooping done by Microsoft.
Deep inside my computer, in a place Microsoft apparently doesn't want me to find very easily, is an ever-growing file called index.dat that's been relentlessly storing my Internet Explorer browsing history from the time I started using this computer. It can tell me what site I was browsing five minutes ago, just as surely as it can tell me where I was a year ago at this time. I don't want it to track my online habits, but I don't matter. It doesn't care. Even if I clear my browsing history or delete Temp files, index.dat is still going to store that stuff anyway. And if I used Outlook or Outlook Express for e-mail, it would be logging all the messages I've sent or received, too.
How about Google? They've been accused of snooping through Gmail.
Google's attorneys say their long-running practice of electronically scanning the contents of people's Gmail accounts to help sell ads is legal, and are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to stop the practice.
In court records filed in advance of a federal hearing scheduled for Thursday in San Jose, Google argues that "all users of e-mail must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing".
The class action lawsuit, filed in May, says Google "unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people's private e-mail messages" in violation of California's privacy laws and federal wiretapping statutes.
So, which is worse? Snooping to make billions of dollars or snooping to control the population? In both cases, it comes down to power and money. The more the government and corporations know about us, the more they can seek to control us and the more controlled we become, the more they can rob us blind!!