Is the Patriot Act haunting Google Service’s?

Read an interesting article on the Globe and Mail entitled “Patriot Act Haunts Google Service“. According to the article many people are suddenly deciding to spurn Google’s services and applications because it opens up potential avenues of surveillance by the US Government:

The U.S. Patriot Act, passed in the weeks after the September, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, gives authorities the means to secretly view personal data held by U.S. organizations…

…organizations are banning Google’s innovative tools outright to avoid the prospect of U.S. spooks combing through their data. Security experts say many firms are only just starting to realize the risks they assume by embracing Web-based collaborative tools hosted by a U.S. company, a problem even more acute in Canada where federal privacy rules are at odds with U.S. security measures

It’s an interesting piece. The cynic in me wants to argue that privacy is really just an illusion anyway? Let’s face it there has been a war over privacy in the U.S. and it’s been fought over last eight years, following 9/11. Under the guise of misguided laws like the Patriot Act civil liberties have been eroded and consequently it’s the average person that suffers: in the current climate, where Governments can exercise the Patriot Act then nothing is really secure. If a users personal information is no out of reach of any government agency that decides it wants it, and there are no legal protections, then how can we say that data is private?

Google has in the past tried to protect its customers data, and has had numerous run in’s with the U.S. Justice Department over it’s stance, but rather revealingly, the company has always refused to state how often government agencies demand to see it’s data or whether there have been any reviews under the Patriot Act. This really shouldn’t viewed as a dig at Google, you could replace the name Google with the name of any US based company, and the same would hold true.

It never ceases to amaze me how politicians always play the national security card along with the patriotism card; they want to convince people that if they don’t support laws like the Patriot Act, and allow some their civil liberties and rights to be eroded, and in some cases completely discarded then not only are you unpatriotic, you’re also helping the terrorists. If your not with us, then your with them … Oscar Wilde really was right …

patriotism is the virtue of the vicious

2 thoughts on “Is the Patriot Act haunting Google Service’s?

  1. Nad, this is another thought-provoking piece. Unfortunately, I think you’ve made a couple of factual errors. Yes, there has been a war to do with privacy, fought worldwide since 9/11. Unfortunately, we’ve lost, and there is no such thing as privacy any more. The UK government has lost everyone’s details at least once by now, and nothing is secure any more. I’ve been reminded of this again this week, as another government agency has managed to leak my details out.

    There can be no privacy when the people who make the laws do not wish us to have privacy. Why do I need to submit my driving license number and passport number to the solicitors to buy a house? Because privacy is dead.

    Politicians will play whatever cards they can. Don’t worry about the ones we see them play, worry about the ones we don’t see. The person who was right about all of this was George Orwell, in 1984. I worry that his vision of a nightmare future is treated by our leaders, not as a warning, but as a wishlist.

    And finally, how can you be surprised that politicians lie? My father always said to me, “You can always tell when a politician is lying – his lips move.” At eight, I thought he was bitterly cynical. At eighteen, I hoped that he was wrong. Now that I’m thirty-eight, I shall pass on his wisdom to my son.

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