News of the day is that Snowden, the NSA leaker, has left Hong Kong and is headed to Russia — and then to points beyond. Speculation is rife that he intends to make his home in Iceland, although there is allegedly a ticket for him out of Moscow bound for… wait for it…. Cuba.
Meanwhile a “bug” in Facebook’s “Download Your Information” tool has disclosed that the company has been collecting and retaining more than you actually shared.
It appears that the firm has been “scraping” the web for information about its users and attaching it to their profiles without their knowledge or consent, including email addresses and phone numbers.
Are we worried about the wrong things?
Probably not — we should be concerned about and put a stop to both.
Those who call Snowden a “traitor” or “treasonous” forget that he took two oaths — first to maintain the secrecy of what he was entrusted with and a second, over-arching oath to The Constitution.
Note carefully that all of the “examples” of these programs cited thus far in “stopping” terrorism have included non-US persons — where there is no problem. The problem is that the programs didn’t stop there — they included, and still include, “scraping” all metadata from phone companies in the United States that include billions of calls and messages between two US persons.
That is the blatantly unconstitutional act, and it is instructive to note that there have been no examples of that conduct trotted out as justification for the program. Gee, I wonder why?
When it comes to Facebook and similar, their “defense” is that they use this data to “improve your user experience.” The question remains, however, where and how you gave consent to that collection, storage and dissemination in any form or by any means. It appears the answer is “you didn’t” and they are relying on the idea that “whatever they can find is ok to use.”
The real question is are you ok with this? Much like the “picture tagging” feature that Facebook has, this sort of thing is arguably legal but one has to question whether you want to, or should, expose anything they can find to collection and ultimately dissemination at their discretion.
The answer to that may lead you to unfriend Facebook just as quickly as you do the NSA — or at least it should, if you have a shred of wisdom.