[Reading 06] Government Over-Surveillance

Technology companies absolutely should not purposely weaken encryption or implement back doors in their products for the purposes of government surveillance! Not only would this betray the trust of the customers using the technology, but it could also open a window for foreign hackers to steal massive amounts of private data and use it against citizens. These companies have a service that is being used by people who expect for their info to remain within that service. They aren’t using a site in order for their info to be available whenever the government asks for it.

I believe that companies like Apple are ethically responsible for protecting the privacy of their users. But at the same time also ethically responsible for preventing violence or harmful activities that their platform may enable. Facebook seemed to have a good balance with their emergency requests when someone is in imminent danger of serious injury or death. They could extend this to include a legitimate terrorism concern. The balance could be facilitated by a security liaison of sorts that works with the FBI reviewing requests for legitimacy in terror concerns. This way customer privacy concerns are being met, yet the national security is still being tended to using all the tools possible.

This process would require a great deal of collaboration between major tech companies and the government. Most likely limiting the number of unlawful requests for private information from the FBI because they know they’ll have to go through a liaison that will restrict their ability or obtain the information they’re requesting. Unlike pre-technology age security, where law enforcement had to receive a warrant to search a physical location, the obtainment of electronic information has become a free for all in the FBI without the knowledge of a judge or the person with whom they are obtaining the information from. This is a vast overstepping of privacy and justice. American’s have always had the right to face their accuser, and this is in gross violation of that right.

It is very comforting knowing the FBI is actively doing its job of stopping criminals and terrorism, but I believe its cutting legal corners where they cannot be cut. We give up some of our freedom in order to be protected, but the government surveillance programs are then taking more and more of our freedoms many times without us even knowing it. It would be perfectly reasonable for a technology company to see a misuse of their platform and report it to law enforcement. The citizen has chosen to use this company to accomplish some illegal end, and can reasonably expect the company to take notice and report them. Furthermore, they should have the freedom to tell the customer that they have committed a violation of the platform and have reported it to law enforcement. This way the customer is able to face its accser. But if the company does not see any wrongdoing, and the government is requesting to just spy on this person due to some unknown or unjustifiable reason, then the company should be well within their rights to refuse.