Tuesday, February 4, 2014

CEO v Press Lapdog Contest

As The Guardian reports, America's largest tech companies have been nodding their silent corporate heads and turning over whatever the secret court has requested.  For anyone concerned about privacy and personal freedom, this paragraph from The Guardian raises one basic question:

 "Tens of thousands of accounts associated with customers of Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Yahoo have their data turned over to US government authorities every six months as the result of secret court orders, the tech giants disclosed for the first time on Monday."

Why wasn't a single corporate CEO raising holy hell about these requests?  Which raises a second question:  in the land of the secret government approved by the secret court, who has been a bigger lapdog, the corporate CEO's of America's tech companies or the American press? Why hasn't the American press been pushing for transparency from government and questioning CEO's for a long time?   Without Edward Snowden and the Guardian, we'd probably still be seeing no discussion. 

Google's law director is quoted in the Guardian article saying "more transparency" is needed.   Oh really?  If that's the case, why has Google been so silent?

What else are our tech companies providing?   As the Guardian reports, "Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo also gave the FBI certain customer records – not content – under a type of non-judicial subpoena called a national security letter."   The tech companies have responded to hundreds of such requests.

Yes, companies have a duty to respond to proper legal requests.   But they are under no duty to be totally silent when the government comes knocking.   What do you think would have happened had these been German companies and the German government came knocking?   How do you think the German corporate CEO's and the German press would have responded?  With silence?   With submission?   

When journalism fails, bad things happen.    And when corporate CEO's take no action against government intrusion, they fail their customers, their shareholders and the citizens of this country.   Who's a bigger lapdog in America, corporate CEO's or the press?  Wow,  that's a real toss up. 


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