We know why the government has its fingers in every computer from Honolulu to Hackensack. FISA, the Patriot Act, national security letters: they're all attempts to prevent the next 9/11. Whether they work or not, many agree they cost us some measure of privacy. It's the age-old liberty vs. security debate, and you know which side I'm on. But now we're starting to see that these measures could cost us much more than our privacy.
Executives from several tech giants met in Silicon Valley yesterday to discuss NSA surveillance. They had a lot to say about the government's domestic spying programs, and none of it was positive. It's no secret how most technology companies feel about their products and customers being forcefully co-opted by FISA requests and national security letters.
Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith had some scathing words, according to Wired:
“If you’re a consumer or a company, you own your email, your text messages, your photos and all the content that you create,” he said. “Even when you put your content in our data centers or on devices that we make, you still own it and you are entitled to the legal protection under our Constitution and our laws. We will not rebuild trust until our government recognizes that fundamental principle.”
There are obvious moral, ethical and ideological reasons why the government shouldn't spy on its citizens. But there are some very practical consequences you might not have thought of.