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Governments applying corporate surveillance techniques

By: 
Gurnishan Singh

August 5, 2013

 
Edward Snowden has been forced to flee the US after blowing the whistle on the government’s domestic spying program.
 
According to Snowden: "Americans' communications are collected and viewed on a daily basis on the certification of an analyst rather than a warrant," and government analysts can “enter and get results for anything they want.”
 
Snowden’s leaks, like the NSA’s secret PRISM program, point to the intertwining of state and corporate surveillance. Microsoft helped the NSA get around its own encryption software in order to read and listen to people’s conversations. There are now similar revelations out of Britain, where companies Verizon, BT and Vodafone secretly worked with Britain’s spy agency to monitor communications.
 
State surveillance is following corporate surveillance. Facebook has become one of the largest data mining machines, with over a billion active members a month, and the latest Facebook breach revealed that it is harvesting user data and creating profiles. Even if an individual does not have a Facebook account, the company is creating shadow profiles through their friends’ data.
 
Google is another massive user data harvesting machine creating profiles on its users, recording how users make use of different Google products. Even if the companies don’t directly sell information or reveal it to ad agencies, their servers are always prone to attacks and all user data can be leaked like the Facebook breach. Leaked data can be sold to corporations to market new products to increase demand and sales. 
 
Non-internet companies are also harvesting personal information for profit. For example, Target in United States assigns each of its customers with a guest ID which is then linked with the customer’s credit card. All the purchase data is mined in the computer and logs are created of what products they bought. 
 
Corporate profits and state surveillance are intertwining, eroding our civil liberties.

 

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