Author Topic: Internet Shrugs Off NSA Data Mining: People 'Numb To The Fact That They're Being Watched'  (Read 357 times)

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Via Huffington Post (Yes, I know. Sorry):

Judging from talk on social networking sites, few people are terribly surprised -- or too upset -- to discover that the government may have been reading their email.

Reports in The Guardian and The Washington Post that the National Security Agency and FBI tapped into Internet and telephone data may seem like an appalling affront to privacy. At the same time, people have understood for years that Google scans their email to deliver hotel promotions ahead of a vacation they’re set to take, or that Facebook monitors their activity so it can advertise rings to a 20-something planning to propose. News that yet another large organization has been tracking their online activity -- though it’s a government agency, not a private company –- has been greeted with a shrug by many of the very users whose personal data the U.S. has been secretly gathering.

“I think people have become numb to the fact that they’re being watched,” said Alan Webber, an analyst with the Altimeter Group, a research firm.

Webber added he doesn’t expect disclosure of the government’s data-mining efforts will spur users to demand changes in the way companies handle the personal information they collect.

“I don’t think there will be any sort of outcry that would push things in a different direction,” Webber said.” I know I’m sounding fatalistic, but you’re on Facebook, you’re on Twitter, you’re on LinkedIn, and we’ve become numb to giving up our personal information. It’s not that big of a deal anymore.”

When Instagram changed its terms of service to allow the company to feature people’s photos in its ads, irate users erupted in protest online, declaring they planned to boycott Instagram or delete the app outright, while encouraging others to do the same.

“Fire is catching..and if we burn you’ll burn with us,” read a typical Instagram user's reaction.

The nine companies named as participants in the NSA surveillance program, dubbed PRISM by the government agency, have so far escaped that level of outrage. (Some of those firms, including Huffington Post owner AOL, have denied aspects of The Washington Post report that said they provided the government agency direct access to their servers. Other companies named in the report said they had no knowledge of the PRISM program.)

In the 24 hours following The Washington Post story, only about 20 tweets had been posted calling for a boycott of Google over its cooperation with the NSA. There were even fewer tweets from users encouraging others to boycott Facebook -- and many were duplicates of the posts calling for a Google exodus.

On Facebook, there was barely a murmur. Though the companies may be censoring the posts that appear on their pages, Facebook profiles belonging to Microsoft, Facebook and Google together had only a handful of comments about the PRISM affair.

“It doesn't worry me. If you have nothing to hide why care?” wrote Facebook user user Diana Notaro in a comment on a Facebook status update posted by Think Progress, an advocacy blog. “I am in the phone book with my address. I belong to organizations who have my name. I am on Facebook. Everyone we do business with knows our credit reputation. Neighbors know us. The church knows us. Why is everyone so worried? The only thing I would not want to share with everyone is my medical information, but even that is no big deal.”

Others cracked jokes about being watched by the NSA.

"PRISM: Your Gmail, Google, Facebook, Skype data all in one place. The NSA just beat out like 30 startups to this idea," tweeted Aaron Levie, co-founder and CEO of Box.

More at link.

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