Julian Assange was recently interviewed by Russia Today and spoke briefly about social networking sites:
Facebook, Google, Yahoo – all these major US organizations have built-in interfaces for US intelligence. It’s not a matter of serving a subpoena. They have an interface that they have developed for US intelligence to use.
While possibly true, we must keep in mind that all of us (including the government) are currently exploring entirely new territory. The internet expands exponentially every day and the online world is beginning to have an impact on nearly every aspect of our lives. Individuals are struggling to interact online while maintaining privacy, companies are scheming ways to profit off this technology bubble, and governments are fumbling to assert their power in this new arena.
While, yes, it is a bit unnerving that the Big Bad Government can use personal information from sites such as Facebook and Google in order to create a digital map of the US population, I don’t believe it’s as nefarious as Assange suggests.
I mean, the government having a list of my friends (acquaintances?) and likes is not as scary as some unknown hacker(s) stealing 102 million user’s credit card and personal information.
While I may disagree with many of practices of the US government, I definitely put accessing information that has been freely volunteered into a different category than identity theft. Let me be clear, I am not making the claim that the government should have unwarranted access to this information. Instead, I am suggesting that people not volunteer sensitive information on social networking sites until the relationship between Internet powerhouses and the Government are properly established.
I think we should worry less about the US government having access to Facebook and be a bit more concerned about Sony and Epsilon. I don’t see large scale protests to the mandatory US census.
At least with Facebook there is an opt-out feature: do not use the site. Do not create a profile. Delete your profile. And if you trust your government less than you trust hackers who seek your credit card information, consider moving to a different country.
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- Early Adopter’s Guide to Keeping your Information Safe