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Big Tech objects to U.S. spying proposal
UnFair and UnBalanced
Sunday, November 18, 2018, 01:39:UTC)(
19 May 2015
Today's letter emphasizes the importance of encryption in protecting privacy so that large marketing companies can build a picture of people's habits and dreams for shameless private sale. The tech giants are adamant that building a picture of people's habits and dreams for national defense is a dangerous and unethical misuse of their privileges.
The Obama Administration has proposed to reduce the encryption level on phones and websites so that the government can read it, which incidentally would be a level at which everyone else can read it too. Google and Apple protested that such a change would let private interests, such as Microsoft, Super-Viagra.com, or ISIS Ltd., use the data for personal gain, when the data was explicitly gathered for the authors' own personal gain. The change might level the playing field, not to mention level the local café and a decent swath of the suburbs.
“Strong encryption is the cornerstone of the modern information shop window,” states the letter, signed by 140 members of a review group appointed by Mr. Obama himself to assess policies after the leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, doing-business-as Wikileaks. The letter — written as irony strain gauges were throwing springs and hypocrisy-filled balloons were close to bursting — asserts that their customer "harvests" are their cow and they alone should get to milk it.
The NSA, having already been caught with its pants down listening to Angela Merkel order her Chinese take-out last year, has pursued a plan of "accustomization." Similar in principle to Apple’s "customerization," accustomization means violating privacy so prolifically and blatantly that no one views it as spying at all. Google has no such program — only a slogan saying, "Do the Right Thing."
FBI Director James B. Comey said it is a natural consequence of the "expectation of privacy" jurisprudence at the U.S. Supreme Court. In this legal theory, if you can't amend the Constitution to remove people's rights, just violate them so regularly that no one thinks he had any rights in the first place. After mandating a laughably poor level of encryption for digital data, a follow-on project will compel suitcase manufacturers to limit customers' color choice to transparent.
At a recent roundtable, Mr. Comey said: “You might not like us listening to you shouting at your neighbor over their dog barking, or talking dirty to your girlfriend, but it is surely better than your entire family being murdered in their beds by swarthy foreigners.” At that point, reporters merely looked at one another sheepishly.
Mr. Comey said that transparent suitcases would achieve the same public benefit as being pawed over by tenured hacks in the airport jetway, but much less obtrusively. “After everyone gets used to the idea, things would feel the same as before,” Mr. Comey continued, “Think of it this way; instead of me sitting on the train in sunglasses, pretending not to be reading your newspaper, I read it blatantly, as though I am just rude. There's no difference. Except, of course, if you complain, you will probably disappear one night.”
- Sophie Curtis "Google and Apple urge Obama to block smartphone surveillance". The Telegraph, May 19, 2015