Subscribe to Fourth Estate Watch our YouTube Channel Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook

Outcry against NSA spying is hypocrisy

Bobby Joe Magers Jr., Opinion Writer
September 19, 2013
Filed under Opinion, Top Stories

After National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden released classified documents to WikiLeaks about the U.S. government’s secret data collecting practices, hypocrisy hit the web about violations of privacy rights.

Public anger swamped the Internet and social websites, with users complaining privacy of a phone call or email is some sacred human right protected by all means from distribution to third parties. Herein lies the hypocrisy.

The issue seems to be focused on how outsiders — in this case the dreaded government — can access personal information without cause or permission, and then use it for profiling. Strictly speaking though, individuals acquiesce to intrusion when they accept the terms of, say, a Facebook account.

Snowden’s documents showed requests by the government to obtain phone records from all of Verizon’s customers. Some documents, including new ones  the CIA recently declassified, show the collecting of data and emails, and the mismanagement of this data, of non-threatening citizens.

U.S. District Judge John Bates was the harshest critic of the e-mail and data gathering tactics used by the government.

“Mishandling thousands of emails from Americans over a three-year period, ‘fundamentally alters the court’s understanding of the scope of the collection,’” Bates said, according to USA Today writers Kevin Johnson and Aamer Madhani.

These statements, and more like them, caused the public to go crazy.

Look at daily Facebook activities, for instance. According to Digital Marketing Ramblings, a website dedicated to digital marketing statistics and trends,  approximately 1.15 billion people worldwide use Facebook, with 128 million being Americans.

There are certain types of information a new user has to input to join and access Facebook, including name, address, phone number, date of birth and location.

People willingly provide these personal attributes to a central hub of data storage and then accept the agreement without reading it.

Facebook allows deeper distribution of personal information through privately created games, posters, apps and more.

Most of these programs ask users if they will share their information with the maker of the application or game before they can use it, and again, most agree to this condition.

This allows Facebook to mine data and configure certain character attributes about users and make profiles of each member.

According to Forbes writer Anthony Kosner, Facebook can then sell them to advertising agencies and others.

As recently as 2013, Facebook has changed the language in the privacy settings that look to grant the company carte blanche on users’ personal information, again.

“If Facebook sells a profile for Mr. X to an advertiser, does it matter that my name and address is not included if everything about me is?” Kosner questioned. “They don’t have to know where I live in the physical world to know where I live online.”

Where is this sacred privacy now?

According to the New York Times writers Vindu Goel and Edward Wyatt, the issue lies with Facebook’s newest privacy policy.

“Privacy advocates also say Facebook is being disingenuous in descriptions of the new policies,” Goel and Wyatt said.

The new privacy settings fly in the face of the agreement Zuckerberg and company made in a court settlement in 2010 when Facebook sold and used users’ personal information for advertising and promotions without permission.

The practice yielded Zukerberg more than $70 million in profits.

There seems to be a blatant hypocrisy here.

The NSA’s practice brought about shouts of distrust of our government and calls for a massive investigation into spying operations conducted by the U.S.

Zuckerberg, however, dishes out personal information using legal jargon and loopholes, makes a huge profit from exploitation and nobody complains.

In both cases, what a person might consider private gets distributed, gathered, categorized and stored to create profiles of individuals using keywords and location, then using that information for their personal use.

Furthermore, because users put their personal information out there willingly, anybody with some technology and a little know-how can steal the data and use it for whatever reasons.

How is one private party gathering data any different from another? This behavior screams, She wants to have her data, and share it too.