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America's Spy State: How the Telecoms Sell Out Your Privacy

Your seemingly private information is a public commodity, subject to the dictates of the security state and market opportunists. 

You need to know one simple truth: you have no privacy with regard to your electronic communications.

Nothing you do online, via a wireline telephone or over a wireless device is outside the reach of government security agencies and private corporations. Your ostensible personal communication -- whether a phone call, an email, a search, visiting a website, a credit card purchase, a 140 character Tweet, a movie download or a Facebook friending -- is a public commodity, subject to the dictates of the security state and market opportunists.

Corporate surveillance has begun to raise consumer, Congressional and regulatory concerns – a major case, Amnesty v. Clapper, is now before the Supreme Court. One can only wonder why it is not an issue in this year’s election?

Corporate spying takes a variety of forms. GPS tracking over a wireless device is widespread. Google’s efforts to commercialize its users’ keystrokes resulted in a $25,000 fine from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Potentially more consequential, a growing chorus of criticism over its recently introduced data-harvesting program seems to have contributed to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation of Google; the FTC retained Beth Wilkinson, a high-powered outside counsel, to oversee a possible anti-trust prosecution of the company. On March 1st, Google introduced a new program that collects user data from its 60 services. Google stores “cookies” (i.e., code that compiles a record of an individual’s web browsing history) on a growing number of communications devices, whether a home PC, tablet, smartphone and a growing number of TV sets. These cookies track every website a person visits or function s/he uses. As the New York Times wrote, “The case has the potential to be the biggest showdown between regulators and Silicon Valley since the government took on Microsoft 14 years ago.

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