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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Law Enforcement Co-Opting Internet Firms for Surveillance

I do not have a Facebook page or a Twitter account (Republic Heritage has one but I do not). I strongly believe in privacy so I do not plaster my life on the Internet for all to see.

Yes, I do post my passionate opinions and beliefs on this blog but I do so anonymously as the writers of The Federalist Papers chose to do. Is there a picture of me here? No. Do you know my full name? No. Have I ever told you the state I reside in? No. Do you know where I work or who I work for? No.

The story below is one of the reasons I decided, long ago, to decline participation in these social networks. Another reason is that employers are now investigating current and potential employees' Facebook and Twitter accounts for anything that may be detrimental to the company.

An intrusive, tyrannical government can cause you much harm, if they choose to, using the information you freely give on these social sites and it could also cost you and your family your livelihood. Because of this, I believe that guarding my privacy to the fullest extent that I can is the best policy.

Reggie
10/2/2011

(Reuters) - Internet companies such as Google, Twitter and Facebook are increasingly co-opted for surveillance work as the information they gather proves irresistible to law enforcement agencies, Web experts said this week.

Although such companies try to keep their users' information private, their business models depend on exploiting it to sell targeted advertising, and when governments demand they hand it over, they have little choice but to comply.

Suggestions that BlackBerry maker RIM might give user data to British police after its messenger service was used to coordinate riots this summer caused outrage -- as has the spying on social media users by more oppressive governments.

But the vast amount of personal information that companies like Google collect to run their businesses has become simply too valuable for police and governments to ignore, delegates to the Internet Governance Forum in Nairobi said.

"When the possibility exists for information to be obtained that wasn't possible before, it's entirely understandable that law enforcement is interested," Google's Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf told Reuters in an interview.

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