If you’re curious exactly how far the government’s data mining is going, the Wall Street Journal has a scary article up about how the government is literally combing through every single record you have these days for evidence of criminality. It doesn’t stop at the nation’s telecoms: your AOL account, your bank records, any record that could possibly be used against you is routinely being requested by and granted to the Federal Government.
Most of these requests aren’t even legal in the traditional sense of the world: they are sloppy fishing exercises from agencies trying to find some terrorists at all costs to justify their heavy handed tactics. For example, AOL (to be fair, one of the more legally scrupulous companies mentioned in the article) turns down twelve thousand requests for customer information every year. Last year alone, the FBI issued 9,200 National Security Letters (or subpoenas) seeking information on 3,501 citizens without a court’s approval.
It’s a bad situation for any company to be in: more and more often, companies are having to choose between customer privacy and the unrelenting demands of a paranoid and power-hungry government. You know, I never used to say this… but outside of Ireland’s depressing lack of steak-and-cheese subs, I sure am glad I got out of America five years ago. This is what happens when you give up your rights because you are scared.
Requests for Corporate Data Multiply [Wall Street Journal]