Google, Ford, and the NSA’s Fight to Stay in Control

Google, Ford, and the NSA’s Fight to Stay in Control

There’s a lot going on right now with the NSA privacy issues.  People aren’t really paying attention because as much as they should because Chris Christie decided to engage in his own little covert op that people on Facebook and Twitter are calling “Fat and Furious.”  Nevertheless, Americans do claim to care about their privacy, and a recent poll by the WaPo showed that 69% of Americans polled are “concerned” about the NSA surveillance programs.  The results also show concern over private companies collecting their data; in researching Facebook reactions for this post, I saw several people who were angry.  One of them posted a rant regarding surveillance and privacy that ended with “STOP TRYING TO SEE WHAT I DO ALL THE TIME!!!!”  This post was sandwiched between a check-in at Anytime Fitness that tagged her significant other, and a picture of her lunch.

Meanwhile, those same companies we hate but patronize with our business are making it even harder for you to have any privacy.  Google has just announced that due to a new integration between Gmail and Google+, you no longer need to know someone’s email address in order to send them an email on Gmail.  If they have a Google+ account, you only need to type their name in.  Google will go ahead and deliver your unsolicited email to whatever stranger you desire.  The best part is, anyone can send YOU email too.  In fact, in order to NOT have Google acting as the Pony Express for every single person in the world who wants to send you an email about penis enlargement, gay porn, or how they just saw you at Starbucks and like your sweater, you need to opt out of it.  Google assumes that you would want everyone in the world to be able to contact you—literally.

But the privacy war isn’t just raging on the internet.  It’s in your car too.  Ford VP of Marketing and Sales, Jim Farley, got a bit too honest at an electronic trade show in Vegas this week.

“We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing. By the way, we don’t supply that data to anyone,” he told attendees.

Naturally, Farley retracted his statements and put up a clarifier: “I absolutely left the wrong impression about how Ford operates. We do not track our customers in their cars without their approval or consent.”

The problem with that is this: By purchasing a car with GPS, you are approving and consenting to be tracked.  That’s how GPS works.  It can’t tell you where to go without tracking where you are.  In other words, his retraction is actually a confirmation.

Underneath the idiocy of “I have nothing to hide anyway” and “If it makes us safer/is more convenient, go ahead,” there is a steady movement among patriots to take back what is ours.  The recent decision by a federal judge saying that the NSA’s programs are unconstitutional has been heralded by privacy advocates as at least a step toward ending it.  Naturally, the federal government is trying to block the lawsuit, pulling—you guessed it—the national security card.  It’s the old circular logic.

Today’s takeaways: The NSA has no intention of stopping, and neither do the big corporations.  What now, America?

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Ava Gardner