Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Government Businesses Privacy

How Silicon Valley Helped the NSA 163

theodp writes "The U.S. tech giants' pledge to up their privacy game in the wake of reports that all-your-data-belong-to-the-NSA rings a little hollow to Abraham Newman, who reminds us that such protections run counter to the business model and public policy agenda that tech companies have pursued for decades. 'For years,' writes Newman, 'U.S. information technology (IT) firms have actively backed weak privacy rules that let them collect massive amounts of personal data. The strategy enabled the companies to work their way into every corner of consumers' lives and gave them a competitive edge internationally. Those same policies, however, have come back to haunt IT firms. Lax rules created fertile ground for NSA snooping. In the wake of the surveillance scandals, as consumer confidence plummets, technology companies' economic futures are threatened.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How Silicon Valley Helped the NSA

Comments Filter:
  • Strange (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 11, 2013 @06:26AM (#45389801)

    How all of us were "ok" with the companies collecting this information. When an intelligence agency combines this info, we suddenly scream for privacy. I'm scared enough that google accesses my Gmail content, and Apple my iMessages and contacts.

  • Backward (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday November 11, 2013 @06:38AM (#45389851)

    Lax rules created fertile ground for NSA snooping.

    No, rules don't make any difference to criminals, NSA or otherwise.

    It is the high value of centralizing all that data info which makes for fertile ground.

  • Re:Strange (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ayertim]> on Monday November 11, 2013 @07:11AM (#45389933)

    all of us were "ok" with the companies collecting this information. When an intelligence agency combines this info, we suddenly scream for privacy.

    Google does not have the ability to put us on the no-fly list. "Ok" or not, the threat level just isn't the same.

  • Re:Strange (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Monday November 11, 2013 @07:31AM (#45389981) Journal
    Most wanted to believe the articulate sock puppets:
    Legally you had the US Constitution to keep the US gov away.
    Legally you had teams of in house (corporate) lawyers defending the 'brand' from hints of warrantless gov collaboration.
    Your political leaders that would 'out' any goverment domestic spying just for party political points.
    The US stock market would never allow the US gov to risk its international sales and would side against warrantless gov and keep sales up.
    You had the public, gov hardware and software 'interface' that would be uncovered very quickly with great press coverage by so many skilled staff.
    You had staff, academies and skilled members of the press who would find some trace.... and then win media prizes with the story of the decade...
    Skilled academics, code reviews, gov standards, software brands and teams of individuals had all looked over net encryption and found it usable for consumers.
    After Snowden it was all found to be a hoax.
    Political leaders did nothing, lawyers said nothing, academics educated the junk code to generations of fee paying students, the tame press never followed any stories, corporations took gov cash and helped, telcos ensured the optical was in place. Mercenaries and contractors enjoyed the overtime.
    The brands are now a joke.
  • Re:Strange (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WoLpH ( 699064 ) on Monday November 11, 2013 @08:07AM (#45390079)

    Even besides that. It doesn't matter if you're ok or not. Even if you don't share your information, if one of your friends has your information on a phone and shares this with facebook it will still be shared...

    Regardless of whether you've ever consented to share it with facebook or anything else.

  • Re:Strange (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Monday November 11, 2013 @08:27AM (#45390161) Homepage Journal

    "How all of us were "ok" with the companies collecting this information."

    Speak for yourself, Kemosabe. There were a lot of us who have been bitching about the invasion of privacy all along. Were we listened to? Of course not - we were shouted down. "There is no privacy on the internet, everything you put out there is available for public consumption. Grow up dummy, if you've done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide!"

    Always, the conversation was derailed with just such words.

    Fact is, conversations on the internet are about as private as discussing your private life on the town square. Of course it's not "private", but you don't expect snoops to be actively engaged in eavesdropping activities. On the town square, you can look around to see if the town gossip is lurking behind the nearby bench. Or, whether the Chief of Police is loitering within earshot.

    The internet? Only some of the more savvy users are aware just HOW LITTLE privacy they have. We are forced to avoid monitoring and eavesdropping. And, it's impossible to tell just how effective our efforts are. And, we know all the while that if NSA or any other agency takes an active interest in us, they can just tap into everything at the ISP level.

    Those of YOU who were "ok" with data mining - it's about time you woke up, and understood that we have valid concerns. Now - what ya gonna do about it? Can we get NSA and a few dozen of the programs that they support defunded? Can we get some of the various police tools shitcanned? What are we gonna DO? Resort to the darknets? That really isn't a solution. All that the NSA has to do, is to install a few thousands of their own onion routers and I2P routers, and whatever else comes along. Perfect MIM attack vectors, since they straddle the backbones anyway.

    What ya gonna do? Just sit around and bitch, with those of us who have been bitching for years? Do you have a plan?

    You might join us, in writing your congress critters. Repeatedly. Often. Write to your own, and everyone else's as well. Sign all the online petitions that you can find. Start your own petitions. And, bug hell out of your congress critters. They HATE to get hate mail. They much prefer not to hear from you at all, and they love fan mail, so send the HATE MAIL.

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Monday November 11, 2013 @08:40AM (#45390207) Journal

    ...perhaps I could correct this a little:
    "'U.S. citizens have passively accepted weak privacy rules that let companies collect massive amounts of personal data. The strategy enabled the companies to work their way into every corner of consumers' lives ..."

    I keep hearing about the "US govt" this and "companies" that.
    The fact is that the whole 'privacy' thing is comparable to the cigarette issue for the last 50 years....NOBODY believed cigarettes were in any way good for you, and by the late 1960s pretty much everyone recognized that they were quite harmful (regardless of what the cigarette companies insisted).

    In short, the consumers willfully participated and knew (when they bothered to think about it) that companies were collecting massive amounts of data with every transaction, using (without complaint) their social security number as an id#, etc.

    When I've got a friend or three complaining about companies/government gathering private data, they're usually paying for their meal with a credit card.

  • by fygment ( 444210 ) on Monday November 11, 2013 @09:58AM (#45390579)

    Few people really 'got' what was going on; some people remain unaware; and most really don't care.

    Companies will lie, politicians will lie, and the people will pretend to believe them and carry on.

  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Monday November 11, 2013 @11:28AM (#45391299) Homepage Journal

    This is also about attacking []; hacking, intrusion, modifying systems, sabotaging hardware [], etc. Is not a passive "i want to know this", but an active/aggresive "i will plant a backdoor/rootkit to be able to do there whatever i want", including hitting you as a person, as a country, or as a trusted media that reach enough/certain people/companies.

    We already knwo they planted backdoors on Tor users [] and Slashdot and LinkedIn users [], and with Silicon Valley cooperation, probably they will be bundled in a lot more software/hardware/services. Time to stop playing boiling frog.

I am more bored than you could ever possibly be. Go back to work.