Last week a federal judge ordered Microsoft to hand over its data stores to the government, including data housed overseas. The ruling marks an ominous new chapter in Internet privacy, one that could have lasting impacts on both individuals’ privacy online and the nature of international law.
Google has privacy clay feet. The NSA and Big Data may also, since they are relying on many of the same outdated legal assumptions as Google. In the last few months, both the U.S. Supreme Court and European authorities have made new baseline privacy decisions that have greatly strengthened individuals’ right to privacy. As a result, they’ve also exposed and heightened Google’s massive privacy liabilities.
The continuing scandal regarding National Security Agency monitoring of U.S. citizens’ and residents’ electronic communications makes one thing perfectly clear: If anyone is going to protect the public from unwanted snooping, the government isn’t it.
Pro-data-grab politicians say the government uses the data and its search capabilities for things like finding American citizens who are interacting with identified international terrorists. The private companies can easily do these searches when asked by the government.