Marketplace Privacy Fail. Assist to All Things Digital

Today on Marketplace from American Public Media host Kai Ryssdal issued an apologia for U.S. government snooping that left me gasping.  Essentially, Mr. Ryssdal and his guest Kara Swisher (All Things Digital, argued that it’s OK for the government to collect this data because private companies are already collecting the same data.  Marketplace privacy fail, assist to All Things Digital.

Ignoring the difference between the ways government and the private sector use this data, let’s remember one thing.  Users of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other private services have opted in.  The companies have clearly published privacy and sharing policies.  Granted these documents are long and may be confusing.  When you set up an account with any of them you agree to their terms of service.

Let’s see, now, when was the last time the NSA asked me to sign a TOS?  Oh, that’s right — never.

Just to fill up some space and give you a sense of what actually went on, here’s a quote from the Marketplace website.

Tech companies faced a lot of criticism for their role in the Edward Snowden data collection story. Now, eight major tech companies — Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo, AOL and Twitter — have rallied against the NSA’s spying efforts in an openly published letter.

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Kara Swisher, co-executive editor of All Things D, notes that this is probably an economic move.

“People especially in Europe and rest of the world are not trusting these [tech] services so it’s a worry for their businesses,” says Swisher.

She also notes the irony behind this push for surveillance reform.

“[The tech companies have] been spying on us for years in order to sell things,” says Swisher, “and at the same time, object to when the government is essentially using it to improve its business.”

About Tony Lima

Tony Lima has been working with technology, economic modeling, forecasting, and market research for 40 years. His background makes him uniquely qualified to navigate this varied landscape. Begin with his education: B.S. in chemical engineering from M.I.T. , M.B.A. from Harvard, Ph.D. in economics from Stanford. His day job was professor of economics at California State University, East Bay. He retired in 2016 to devote his time to consulting and writing. But he has found time to: write (eight books and over 100 articles ranging from wine economics to detailed analyses of meta-language code generators) consult with companies ranging from Microsoft to CEDEX keep his expertise up-to-date, constantly reading and sorting through the avalanche of information available daily maintain three blogs: Wine Research, Wine Economics, and Economic Policy Local policy analysis: Los Altos

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