Thoughts on Guardian’s expose of US Govt Data Mining

I am writing this sitting in Canada, in a language given to me by my education and colonial history. Some of my best friends and mentors have been Americans, Europeans and Asians. I will try and state this as objectively as possible.

  1. If China’s government sees your data or even data of dissidents, it is considered bad, but if the US Government does it, it is considered okay. Is that really okay? I would trust the SCOTUS, the IRS, the Congress, but I am not sure I should trust the Pentagon, NSA and White House with zero restraints.
  2. In reality no human eye can see so much data. They have algorithms running for text mining, automated programs that enable human analysts to zoom in if required. The US government is not presumably interested in your dating life but the data is there.
  3. Economic Espionage has been a traditional tradecraft of Western policy since they borrowed gunpowder and silk from China, to Operation Paper Clip , giving Nazis pardons for US space programs.
  4. USA has a long tradition and policy of government and defense working with the private sector to give them economic advantages. Internet was released by Al Gore and DARPA.
  5. With the new challenges of climate change, economic rivalry, diminishing energy resources- should the US government be trusted with almost 80% of the data flowing through the English speaking Internet.
  6. The collection of data from non American citizens effectively makes this an undeclared cyber-war that the Obama government is waging against the world.
  7. If Albert Einstein could protest nuclear weapons 60 years ago, as data scientists it is our community’s duty to clear the rules of engagement of data collection and data mining. Before we get into one more cyber cold war.obama-big-brother

Barack_Obama_Hope_poster

 

I am disappointed with Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple for not even once protesting this move.

I would also like to know what is the expense in past 7 years of this monitoring and how many threats were neutralized (and why the Boston Bombers and others could not be)

I would like to know if data belonging to members of the US Congress was collected or purged by the records from the NSA or if there are any exclusion criterion for people or was data collected for everybody

Read more here- http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data

To my intense horror, it seems Julian Assange was right about Eric Schmidt.

There are NO ways of making money that are NOT evil.

Author: Ajay Ohri

http://about.me/ajayohri

5 thoughts on “Thoughts on Guardian’s expose of US Govt Data Mining”

  1. First:
    “The US government is not presumably interested in your dating life but the data is there.”
    You’re certainly correct about that! Most people seem to fear what may be “spied on” now. Their fear is misplaced. The more vague but still real concern is that something done or written in the present will be used against your wishes in the future. While always a possibility, it increases with enhanced storage and unfettered access by government, or others.

    Second:
    “Economic Espionage has been a traditional tradecraft of Western policy since they borrowed gunpowder and silk from China…”
    That doesn’t make any sense. What Western policy resulted in borrowing gunpowder and silk from China? The British Empire in the 1800’s, and the U.S. in the first decades of the 20th century, did not do well by China. China invented gun powder, and cultivation of silk worms, and much more, centuries before the West, and even before discovery of the New World. As for your reference to Operation Paperclip, giving Nazi scientists asylum during or shortly after World War 2 is hardly “economic espionage”. It is ethically suspect in many ways. The argument would be more that we should have executed them at Nuremberg, not that we poached them from Germany. Is that what you’re saying, that early post-WW 2 Germany was negatively impacted by the loss of Werner von Braun?

    Third:
    “USA has a long tradition and policy of government and defense working with the private sector to give them economic advantages.”
    Ajay, EVERY country has a long tradition and policy of government working with the private sector!

    The U.S.A. was the primary developer of the Internet, but certainly not alone. Contributions from the U.K. and elsewhere (France, South Africa) were significant. I agree that for the sake of resiliency and trust, it would be better for everyone if there were less concentration of U.S. control.

    As for Eric Schmidt, I feel so sad and disappointed. I’m not a fan of what Wikileaks did. It seems kind of pointless, in retrospect. Many risks were taken with little lasting impact. Most of what I have read that was directly attributed to Julian Assange (not hysterical or ridiculously positive summaries written by the media) is sensible and well-reasoned. He has the good judgement to issue statements, grant interviews, only when he has something to say that is factual, or that he believes in very strongly. Thank you for posting that URL to his article in The Guardian UK.

    I am going to be very unhappy if you delete my comment like you did when you interviewed the CEO of DataMarket!

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