Cowards

Will not one tech CEO stand up and tell the truth?

The NSA story of the secret assassination of the Fourth Amendment continues to unfold. Today we heard from Google CEO Larry Page and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Page was confused (the title of his post is “What the…?). Zuckerberg claimed the press reports were outrageous. Both made strong denials of specific allegations (“direct access,” “back doors”). Both were technically telling the truth. Both were also overtly misleading people.

So…much…false…indignation.

Those denials now look ridiculous, sitting below a new top headline story with yet more information. I’m guessing Page and Zuckerberg would like to rewrite those statements after reading Claire Cain Miller at the New York Times blowing the lid off with allegations that not only are these companies knowingly working with the NSA, they’re even finding ways to make data transfers more efficient.

In at least two cases, at Google and Facebook, one of the plans discussed was to build separate, secure portals, like a digital version of the secure physical rooms that have long existed for classified information, in some instances on company servers. Through these online rooms, the government would request data, companies would deposit it and the government would retrieve it, people briefed on the discussions said.

and

But instead of adding a back door to their servers, the companies were essentially asked to erect a locked mailbox and give the government the key, people briefed on the negotiations said. Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information, they said.

In case you missed it, Miller spells it out for you: “While handing over data in response to a legitimate FISA request is a legal requirement, making it easier for the government to get the information is not.”

Or to put it another way, who the hell needs “direct access” or “back doors” when companies are building “secure portals” for them instead?

We could quibble all day about whether these men lied (no), or simply misled (yes). But what I really want to know is this:

What has these people, among the wealthiest on the planet, so scared that they find themselves engaging in these verbal gymnastics to avoid telling a simple truth?

We understand the law – these companies can’t acknowledge FISA orders, let alone discuss them – the Verizon document said as much:

It is further ordered that no person shall disclose to any other person that the FBI or NSA has sought or obtained tangible things under this Order.

But why is that stopping them? Do they really see themselves being dragged away, Bradley Manning style – to sit for years in a prison before even being given the dignity of a trial?

Because that’s not going to happen.

If just one of them stood up and told us what’s really going on, as the EFF has urged, we could start to have a real discussion in this country about freedom v. security.

Stand up, I say, and tell us about these FISA orders. Publish them all. Tell us everything. Let us understand the true scope of the evil we are facing.

Because their lawyers might be telling them what they are required to do. But their soul should be telling them what they must do.

At the end of the day, when it comes to government snooping on the phone records and Internet activity of millions of Americans, it doesn’t matter in the least if it’s legal or if procedures were followed. What matters is that the privacy of millions of people has been violated without probable cause or suspicion of wrongdoing, simply so the government could scoop up data on the off chance of finding something interesting.

Will you do it, Marissa? Or you, Ballmer? Or you, Armstrong? Will anyone stand up and say the truth? Will anyone stand up to the secret organization with the secret courts and, simply, do what’s right? Despite the consequences? Despite what your lawyers tell you?

Perhaps you could all get on a conference call tonight and double dare each other to do it all together, at the same time.

“The NSA makes us do things that crush our Constitution, and then they make us never talk about it.”

I hope one of them does. History will not be kind to the people who say nothing. And it will be even less kind to those that mislead us.

110 thoughts on “Cowards

  1. Mark Jaquith says:

    Considering that these are tech companies, and that posting this in such a way as to not implicate any individuals should be a cakewalk for anyone who works there (incognito browser, local firewall not letting any other traffic out, using an open proxy, while logged into a public open Wi-Fi network while using a spoofed MAC address, while leaving your cell phone at home)… I see no need for anyone to risk prosecution by doing it publicly. It would be very brave if they did it publicly, but the important thing is that citizens know what their government is doing in their name.

    • DanielHiltbrand says:

      Even better if they do it publicly, it’s easy to rendition Joe Public, a lot harder to rendition Eric Schmidt. Personally, I think we’ve just been hoodwinked. The leak was intentional giving the individuals who care a chance to vent their anger. Then comes the inevitable tide of apathy to wash away and overwhelm the justified anger. Finally, “release” as the growing police state is “just common knowledge.”

      Quite masterfully done!

      I’ll sign my real name, because I don’t have anything to personally lose and I don’t care to live in a world like the one being prepared for us, if it comes to that.

      • Dean Collins says:

        Considering there is a secret open warrant for Julian Assange….maybe these ceo’s don’t want to spend the next few years In jail OR in a diplomatic limbo.

        At the end of the day I think its up to the PEOPLE to show what their feelings are here.

        I hear you….but now you hear me. – http://on.fb.me/15W0qd6

        #PRISM

        • If you could get Paige, Zuckenburg, Ballmer, and one or two more of the more well-liked figures in the IT industry to stand up and loudly denounce this tactic and openly defy the government, and THEN cut off every single dollar they and their companies gives in political donations, and THEN state resoundingly that they will stand for freedom and liberty and outright and bluntly dare the federal government to prosecute them, it could potentially change the entire situation. Better, of course, if the heads of all of the major Telecom firms are up there with them (you want the techies there for PR primarily, and the Telecom people there since those are the primary targets of this illegal activity by the government). Just imagine if the heads of Cisco and Bay networks came out and defied the government and stated that instead of helping the government snoop, their security programmers and network engineers would begin actively working on ways to actively prevent the NSA from accessing systems purchased by their clients. Then followed through with such a program either at cost (for the PR) or at a moderate cost to clients.

          What if every single company involved also refused to renew ANY federal contracts when they come up for renewal? An industry wide move in solidarity would cripple the government’s attempts to prosecute anyone over the refusal to cooperate. On the boycotts, there are only a few foreign firms the government could turn to, and the consumers here in the states could apply pressure in that direction by boycotting those firms in favor of the US firms which stood up for liberty.

          I know this is all a pipe-dream. But what if such people stood up for liberty instead of being shills sucking at the teat of DC kickbacks and favors?

          • I personally do not, nor will ever post on Facebook or any other Social Media outlet.
            Why there is any surprise at all to any of the accusations and half truths coming from these CEO’s is way far beyond me.
            What has been transpiring on a daily basis inside the NSA has been going on forever.
            As I have posted regarding a friend of mine that worked for NSA in the 80′s that this type of spying on the American public is nothing new. Just technologically advanced.
            Money begets power. Power and money is the deal breaker when it comes down to The American People and our rights.
            The American Government who ‘We The People’ elect, usually under false pretense haven’t any interest at all in what ‘We The People’ actually care about, nor who we actually are.
            This protocol as it were breaks down for the ‘Titans of Industry’ in a litany of backroom deals and shenanigans that bring these CEO’s tighter into the circle of power.
            In effect why wouldn’t Paige, Zuckenburg and Ballmer, throw their hat into the ring of the corruption of ‘We The People’s’ rights.
            By prostituting themselves and their enterprises in a way to better the governments insights into our daily lives.
            I believe this is what Mr. Snowden was referring to.
            James Clapper himself before stepping into his position with NSA was in fact a ranking executive with Contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.
            The power provided within the companies of Zuckenburg, Paige and Ballmer only serve as stepping stones for these CEO’s into the next phase of power regarding their selves.
            As well I would not be surprised knowing what I know, that the possibility of Mr. Snowden becoming a victim of the recently passed ‘Detainable Law” and headed into some type lifelong limbo in some hidden cell somewhere in the desert.
            The real point here is that the people and scope of The NSA that has been revealed is not at all being taken lightly by the people who have been leaked.
            As with everything regarding The Complete Corruption and Bastardization that The American Government without any stealth what so ever perpetrates on us, ‘We The People’ will be long forgotten by The American People in less than a month.
            In fact a poll I read today shows that The American People for the most part, as in a majority support the NSA and all that they do with regards to this yet another scandal, even though the majority of The American Public hasn’t a clue what the hell the NSA does.
            For the most part Fat and Happy America, their Fat Grills glued to their 73 inch flat screens, clapping like trained seals, Regurgitating ‘Talking Points’ around the water cooler. Clueless as can be, while the few of us bloggers knock our brains out researching, writing, The Real Deal to limited audiences while The Bought and Sold Media program The The Fat and Happy for the kill.
            Just another day up in the spur.
            Ryan.

      • LanguageLawyer says:

        The verb is “render”. “Rendition” is the act of rendering.

    • prowse! says:

      If Google/facebook CEOs don’t rsvp asap with thier real concerns, will be the end of social media – i do not believe that most of us care so much about tweeting, or booking, or plussing. I just dont think it’s that important.

    • LanguageLawyer says:

      The problem with doing it anonymously is precisely that it lacks conviction. Would you believe an anonymous whistleblower? Would you believe them as much as Larry Page?

      There is probably documentation which can be used as evidence, but not anonymously. An email to Page or Zuckerberg can’t exactly be anonymously leaked.

  2. anonymous1 says:

    I don’t think the CEO knows every technical detail of the IT infrastructure.

    The CEO is the last person to know that.

    Easy just pay to some IT people to get access.

    • Darwin says:

      Don’t be an idiot.

    • Ronnie says:

      The ceo’s of GOOG and FB know everything when it comes to govt programs and their access to data.

      Don’t fool yourself!

    • biorhythm says:

      I don’t think that’s possible. CEO knows for shure. If government agency performs some action there have to be a paper. They’re bound by procedures. Lawyers have to do their work. Documents must be signed. In this case I believe, signed by CEO.

    • LanguageLawyer says:

      That’s probably true of the average CEO, but Page and Zuckerberg were the technical founders of their respective companies.

      • Not only that, but in the cases that have been on the news (Verizon), the company installed specialized hardware to facilitate the data transfer. Which means they had to have coordinated with the NSA on buying/building the hardware, installing encryption software on the devices, and setting up an encrypted data link to the NSA (more hardware).

  3. anonymous1 says:

    Pay or blackmail people who work on the datacenters. (more plausible)

    • Not at this scale. The Verizon story specifically stated that NSA provided specialized hardware for them to install in their data centers. That sort of thing (data center hardware for an internet provider/telecom company) gets audited and checked regularly.

      • nearlynormalized says:

        You said it, $$$$$$ has and always will be the solution. Did not Plato say, “The politics of man.” $$$$$ and more $$$$$ there is no right or wrong–so phuque em, “turn on, tune in and drop the phuque out.” Timothy Leary had it right.

  4. jon may says:

    typo, broheim! last sentence. almost made it.

  5. SS says:

    This so reminds me of this quote

    “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”

    Dante Alighieri,

  6. Jason Carr says:

    This recent news is simply confirming what many individuals have been stating about Google/Facebook for years…of course those that made the claims were called “conspiracy theorists” or worse. I didn’t personally want to believe this kind of thing could be happening but given the news that has been coming out regarding the government in recent days, it no longer surprises me one bit. Yes these CEO’s are cowards and no, I don’t believe they will ever stand up and tell the truth.

  7. In this age of universal, unheralded levels of cowardice, what inner belief or ideology would motivate a CEO to be so courageous? They are not Christian Knights! This secularist, atheist has come to admire the spirit of heroism that traditional religion often inculcated in people (besides other negative aspects).

  8. geoffwolfe says:

    100% conjecture. You think you know, but you – just – don’t – know

  9. engineer says:

    I agree. Further, the idea that they cannot discuss FISA orders is based on an illegal law. If these wealthy people will not stand up to the state when it is blatantly engaging in criminal activity (violating the constitution) who is going to?

    These people are not “heroes” of society, they are complicit in its downfall.

    If you’re a company with billions of dollars and you don’t even try to take the government to court- all the way to the supremes– to protect your customer data, then you are clearly not someone with enough morals to be trusted with that data!

  10. mike says:

    Conflicted between freedom and security. Didn’t one of the founders say something about that?

    • Yes, Ben Franklin. “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have nor do they deserve either one.
      Too much greed from little rich boys who sell their souls to the government

    • mereed says:

      Yes, and if you had read all of the comments today, you would have seen mine posted at 9:45a: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety – Benjamin Franklin. Privacy, reasonable privacy the kind that was fought for in this country’s beginnings, is essential liberty. It does not make sense to destroy that for a dystopia where no freedom exists at all.”

  11. Brett Stubbs says:

    I think the reporter who blew the lid off the prism story nailed it: both Google and Facebook are publicly traded in an area that is highly regulated. (They also have the IRS breaking down their doors) As he put it, there are a myriad of tools the federal government can use to “enforce” these orders. It’s out of control.

    • wtpayne says:

      Yep … and if the agencies can go to work on Google with the metaphorical pair of pliers, what hope have the rest of us got? They may well come after us with *real* pliers next …

  12. Craig Walker says:

    Remember when they tapped all the carriers in 2006? Qwest was the only one bold enough to say “no” to the government. Great balls there:) Why is the backbone from the rest of the leaders? http://yahoo.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm

    Best quote: “Among the big telecommunications companies, only Qwest has refused to help the NSA, the sources said. According to multiple sources, Qwest declined to participate because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.” Studs.

  13. Chris Swan says:

    Isn’t this just about expedience/efficiency? Since it’s clear that there are hundreds of NSLs each day then the big service providers must be getting hit with tens of them each, per day. I’ve seen the work generated by a single subpoena, and it’s not pretty. The cover of secrecy just makes things harder. Of course they want to minimise the staff overhead in dealing with all those requests, so systems have been built to deal with the drudge.

    I’m not an apologist for what’s going on, but the real issue is 300,000 NSLs and 0 accountability.

    • bhpaddock says:

      Chris Swan posted the first sensible comment I’ve seen on this entire page.

      As far as I can tell, neither CEO misled anyone. They said that they don’t give unfettered access to their systems. Each of these companies has said they give the minimum amount of information about specific individuals as required by legal subpoenas/court orders. It is perfectly reasonable that both of those things are true while it still being true that these companies have built infrastructure to deal with the number of subpoenas they receive. It’s only prudent that they would.

      Talk about false indignation. You’re really full of it today Arrington.

      • Verizon provided real-time access to the call logs of 100,000,000 accounts. I’d hardly call this the minimum amount of information required to do much of anything except violate the Fourth Amendment.

        The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

        There is absolutely no way that the call logs for every Verizon customer account falls into “probably cause”. Further, SC cases clearly state that search warrants must be targeted and not “overly broad”. Even in criminal courts, who are pretty lax in the standards for issuing warrants, there’s no way a warrant for the logs of every call made by every customer would be signed unless the judge was a loon (and the appeals court would throw out the warrant in about 5 minutes). Look for this to go down hard when the lawsuit makes it to the SC.

    • LanguageLawyer says:

      You say “Of course they want to minimise the staff overhead”, but why? My reaction would be exactly the opposite: malicious compliance.

      If I’m not legally allowed to say that I received a NSL, then I’ll do everything but. I wouldn’t spend one penny writing software to make it more efficient. I’ll hire 1000 people at minimum wage, construct a new building with a big sign out front that says “Google Secret Legal Team”, and have them sort through all the requests by hand. I want everybody to see. I just wouldn’t say what they’re actually doing in there.

      Look at Google’s or Facebook’s balance sheet, and you’ll see that such a plan would be perfectly feasible for them. They would just have to want to do it.

      Why would we *not* question Page and Zuckerberg and the rest for trying to more efficiently obey an unjust law?

  14. Steve says:

    Why don’t you answer the hard question for yourself and tell us how much privacy you are willing to give up to save the life of someone you know? Where is your line? What do you think makes sense?

    • Darwin says:

      Moron. You deserve to lose your freedom and privacy.

    • Sara says:

      Steve the question is: did somebody indeed ask how much of privacy one is willing to give up, or was it taken without even acknowledging it?

    • mereed says:

      They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety – Benjamin Franklin. Privacy, reasonable privacy the kind that was fought for in this country’s beginnings, is essential liberty. It does not make sense to destroy that for a dystopia where no freedom exists at all.

  15. mike says:

    Steve you say: “privacy” and “saving lives”. I say “freedom” and “security”. So the question you is do you equate “privacy” to” freedom”?

  16. bit cromwell says:

    spade=spade

    thank you, this post obviously costs a little courage itself.

  17. Ray Cromwell says:

    This is ridiculous. Look, what people thought PRISM was, was some kind of carte blanche “run adhoc queries over all user data” Verizon-like feed to the government.

    Now we find out it’s just a drop box for the NSA to pick up information for a targeted individual like a wiretap. The fact that they built a portal for the NSA to log in and get it, as opposed to send it via FedEx does not make their public denials a lie.

    What Google, Apple, Facebook et al are denying the kind of Verizon-like access where the government can simply get a Search Box and run datacenter wide fishing expeditions. That denial is absolutely truthful.

    Now Arrington has moved the goal posts, but Google has never said it doesn’t comply with warrants or NSL letters, in fact, it is public knowledge that it does so because they tried to fight them in court and lost, and because of the Google Transparency Report.

    If PRISM is dropbox like directory to securely pick up legally compulsory information on single individuals (as opposed to widespread searches), then it simply fits with what everyone believes Google, Facebook, Apple, et al, were already doing.

    What would you have them do, print up the records in large type on paper using Comic Sans and drop it on the NSA Director’s front doorstep?

    • Alex says:

      I agree. Why are these companies and their chiefs being targeted by such outrage when they are just obeying the law. They’ve not lied, they’ve told the truth revealing what they are able.

      And the portal used to “make it easier” also I suggest makes it far more accountable. They get a request they can log and show what was released. It seems a much better system than having some adhoc strategy that can more readily go wrong.

      In fact to me it seems that you could equally level at these chiefs that they are being clever. Coming forward and giving carefully worded statements that make it very easy for people to read behind the words.

      Authors of all this outrage have the huge advantage of not being in that position. To all such people channel your outrage properly – at the USA government; and if they’re so outraged at these companies stop using them and set up their own servers for email, search and the rest or even just a TOR server to spread the love.

  18. Chris Swan points out (a few comments above this one) that these companies would have built systems to save a lot of manual work (and therefore money). So if the truth comes out, everyone will see that they cooperated *more* than was legally required. So they pretend they’ve done nothing, and not just out of fear of the government.

  19. albsure75 says:

    Seriously. Why is anyone shocked? Do you really think mighty US that sends drones all over the world can not get access to any data from any company on its soil?

    Come on dude!!! It’s a given.

    You think larry page and zuck are some kind of Ghandi type freedom fighters? Do you think for one moment that they might just be a little scared about defying the orders of a government agency? One that has been implicated in assinations, coups and all sorts of strange going on’s since day dot.

    You think they are willing to risk their lives for this shit? For some phone records and text messages of people they don’t even know?

    There is a reason why the US are suspicious of Lenevo and Huwewi and why google isn’t big in china. Everyone knows what’s really happening. Game recognises game as they say. This faux outrage is just silly.

    • Martin Jackson says:

      Of course everybody is shocked, until now only conspiracies theorist would dare to say something about the government, now people are finding they were right. This government should defuse what is causing the increase in Terrorists targeting USA, this means they should fix the way they handle the Arab – Israel conflict and assume a more impartial position.

  20. jdb says:

    I’d be an awful lot more willing to consider exchanging some privacy for security if the government would be so kind as to inform us how much we’re paying and what we get in exchange. To me it’s not about idealistically sticking to ones’ principles while the world burns down, it’s about having a public debate about how we should respond to present and future threats.

    You know–like a democracy.

  21. Nicolas says:

    In itself, allowing NSA to do its job is not bad. What is questionable might be how much control on its mission we have, are the people in charge really fit, not just on paper.

    we live in world of hypocrisy. We want the security, but not restrict rights. We want the cultural safety of our kind, but we want the world to come. We want the best education, and that every form of knowledge get recognized. We don’t recognize the virtue of limitation and anticipation.

    How many Islamists are in Japan now ? Are their soldiers at risk of being killed on their own ground, like in the UK, France, or US ? By not choosing civilization, on this subject like on others, modern democraties put themselves in situation bound to have negative consequences.

    Far from being a mishap, what is going on with NSA is the logical consequence of our modern society.

    There was a time where we were allowed to think of civilization, true democracy, and of limits. We can’t defer that to some administrative machinery, barring big deceptions, and we must raise to the level that is required from us.

  22. Chad Huber says:

    The investors very well could become upset with the CEO for acting against the best interest of the company bBy putting the CEO at risk of being arrested on treason. Because Zuck has control of the board and therefore nullifies any ‘best interest of the company’ argument in addition to being the youngest – he represents the next generation more than Page / Cook – I think he should do it.

  23. ASDASDASDK says:

    What about foreign people, living in foreign countries and using the services of these companies?

  24. Dan Haggard` says:

    I agree with your anger – but feel that it needs to be focused more directly on legislators. If they’ve passed laws making it illegal to disclose or admit to any of this stuff – then they might face horrible consequences to providing the admission you seek. It’s easy for us to righteously demand that they do this – but if you have the opportunity to do – say – a bradley manning style leak – would you really have the balls to do it? I must admit that I doubt I would… Not sure – but pretty sure I wouldn’t. So it’s hard for me to expect others to have to do it as well. Better that we spend our anger on the elites that have passed these insane laws in the first place.

  25. Rsrional says:

    These CEO’s responsibilities are first to their shareholders. Committing felonies is not what they are paid for. Arrington naturally glosses over the fact that the article he cites describes case-by-case responses to court orders, not wholesale bulk transfers.

  26. wtpayne says:

    Well, I am a coward, and I am very very afraid. The power imbalance is astonishing, and the organisations in question have both the means and the motive to abuse that power. If we fight, I am very much afraid that we will lose.

  27. Vadim Lebedev says:

    Michael,

    Risking one’s own well being to help the community is basically a definition of an altruistic behaviour. Nobody and i mean NOBODY can reach and keep the position of CEO of big international corporation by exhibiting altruistic tendencies. The environment is too competitive and it promotes egoism and punishes altruism. (BTW, The same reasoning stand for political leadership too). So, I don’t think we can really expect your call to be heard…

  28. Jbg says:

    I usually think your ego gets in the way of your work, but this time it gave you the balls to write this.

    Well done. Don’t let this topic die. Someone at these businesses knows the truth and could inform you directly or Assange style.

  29. Don Crowley says:

    If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him. – Cardinal Richelieu

    Even as innocent we will be found guilty. Respect Mike for raging against this injustice

  30. alexksikes says:

    The solution is client based encrypted cloud storage + peer to peer solutions to existing services such as FB. In this way the data is encrypted and the networking is distributed. Game over big brother.

  31. oneeyedpigeon says:

    This situation has been allowed to exist solely as a consequence of the overreaction to the threat posed by terrorism since 9/11. As a civilisation, the West has brought this upon itself.

  32. Okung Nyo says:

    Mr. Arrington, have you seen this: https://plus.google.com/+google/posts/TMh6gUVrwMq

    “[...] We cannot say this more clearly—the government does not have access to Google servers—not directly, or via a back door, or a so-called drop box. [...]”

    And could you update your post and/or tell us what you think?

  33. melanie says:

    The question that will most likely soon arise is: who paid for Facebook’s cooperative system (mailbox) for the government to collect data more easily? And what does that say about Facebook legally and ethically? Whose time were they working on there and does that make the government a legitimate client who they “sell” data to as they do their business clients? Was that line crossed?

  34. jonathan e says:

    This is a great discussion, and I’m impressed that Mike was willing to wade into this. He didn’t make any new friends among a group of people that he ought to be nice to.

    I’m a bit ashamed to admit that, until I read the post, I sort of liked that the CEOs were being evasive. It seemed better to me from a national security standpoint. Also, I take the view that the CEO of a public company has a duty to shareholders, and sticking a finger in the eye of authorities make a personal point of ethics runs to the line of what a CEO should be doing.

    ….However, this post and the discussion has changed my mind. The corollary to Mark Jaquith’s comment above is that, between all the inside people who can leak anonymously and the press, it seems inevitable that the story will get out. So, the CEOs have essentially damaged their, and their company’s, credibility for speaking honestly, and that creates a loss of value to shareholders.

    It seems that the CEOs could have made different types of statements that would have been within the law, and been straightforward. I’m there with Mike and so likely are the CEOs themselves. They performed badly and in error with their public comments.

    Then, why won’t they go all the way and disclose things more fully? If they’ve created easier ways for the government to collect data they’ve requested, that seems within the boundaries of what most would expect (and I’m fine with it.) The way things are now, the CEOs have created the impression that the disclosure of data is voluminous, and that is the worse impression to have created for their shareholders and the government.

  35. isis2020 says:

    Eavesdropping technologies are essential for breaking up international organized crime. The Liberty Reserve Case involved over $6 Billion in funds – based in Costa Rica and the USA. Get all the details on this case at: http://www.csi-8.com/costa-rica-fraud-reporter/LibertyReserve/index.html

  36. Glenn says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly, but do you really expect any of these people to bite the hand that feeds them? These are the same groups of people that join Obama and other politicians at dinners, fund raisers and events. Do you really think they even care about the average American? One of the problems today is that the super-rich of today don’t care about America or Americans, all they care about is their money. The super-rich of ages past didn’t have much concern for the individual American, but they did care about America overall. They provided benefits to society in spite of driving for more wealth and power. The super-rich of today don’t provide any benefits to society. You ask if they’d be taken like Bradley Manning, I agree, probably not, but we’ve already seen that the administration will use the IRS as they want, what would stop the administration from all the sudden also using the FCC, EPA, SEC, etc to harass and bankrupt the company? They don’t even have to be legitimate charges, the investigations themselves would result in huge financial losses. None of these “powerful” tech companies are so secure that a few investigations couldn’t shut them down.

    Until extremely recently not a single news outlet in the USA was doing any kind of investigative reporting. Only when they themselves were caught in the drag net did they finally pull their head out of the sand and start once again acting as the Fourth Estate that we so desperately need. Without a press willing to publish and speak out against the government and it’s abuses, who would your super-powerful CEO’s even speak too? I would think that a year ago (this NSA spying has been going on for 7+) that if a CEO wanted to release that information the press wouldn’t have touched it.

    We need to break the iron rule of the two parties we have. It’s disastrous to our country and our society. This isn’t a Democrat or a Republican issue, it doesn’t matter if it was Obama or Bush or whoever is next. Without the Fourth Estate functioning and a valid third choice we’ll continue to get more (and worse) of the same.

  37. bobo says:

    I stopped at the first line: you have decided you know what is the truth. Good for you.

  38. landmine says:

    I doubted it at first but I’m thinking of my own experience when I would ask the question myself and the answers I would get in response – like as if you were about to step on a trip wire or landmine. So you would step back cautiously and act like you never asked in the first place. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-57428067-83/fbi-we-need-wiretap-ready-web-sites-now/

  39. Senyor Archer says:

    Keep on preaching, Cotton Mather.

  40. Matt Basta says:

    Would you rather Google or Facebook submit data that has been requested (legally) via email? Instant message? Boxes of reams of documents through USPS? If a company is required to submit my data, I’d rather the company have a secure digital lock box than no secure lock box.

    Essentially, if I owned a company and the government requested data of a specific user and presented evidence that they were conducting terrorist activity and I was legally required to comply, I’d do my damndest to make sure that the data in question is delivered in the safest and most efficient way possible to protect a.) the privacy of the user from 3rd parties attempting to intercept the data and b.) the integrity of the government’s mission (i.e.: not breaking the mandatory secrecy that I’m complying with).

    • mereed says:

      The issue (which you have touched on) is between what is legal and what is lawful. It is on that sole tipping point that objections are being raised. Lawful is based on what is defined by ‘first things’ things that are fundamental, self-evident rights of humans. Legal is what has been politically and more often expediently instituted to serve a limited purpose and agenda. What is lawful has been violated in the mind of the public – which is why the ‘offenders’ are defending themselves behind what is ‘legal’… and of course, that stinks. Because simply put, legal offends common sense and what is sane at times. Under legality, great crimes have been committed against whole populations. That is why legal can be questioned and should be questioned (not open defiance or undue rebellion but sane questioning to ascertain whether a thing is true and needed) as to whether those who carry such actions out are perpetrators or defenders of what is for the good. To blindly obey under the circumstances of an almost unchallenged Act such as FISA, is tantamount to skating along the constructs of a star chamber government. Cooperate with the protection of our citizens, yes. But always question for the protection of our citizens and we are not doing that.

  41. John says:

    “What has these people, among the wealthiest on the planet, so scared that they find themselves engaging in these verbal gymnastics to avoid telling a simple truth?”

    can you spell ‘drone strike’? can you spell ‘family funeral doubletap’?

  42. Commit defenestration when the wealth of stock value is tied to privacy?

  43. Good says:

    Sergei Brinn spent years trying to do no evil. Page runs a different type of ship. I call on Brinn to stand up and say something, but wasting your breath on people like Page, Ellison or Balmer is really a waste.

  44. I have a Google and a Facebook account. Should I cancel them both? What alternatives are there?

  45. I think it is probably not en close to the the truth.

  46. John says:

    I think you under estimate the economic power that Washington wields on companies like Facebook and Google. These CEOs have a responsibility to their shareholders.

    How many of these startups have “disappeared” after taking a stand.

    btw, just noticed that I am required to disclose an email address to post a comment, with a claim that “(Address never made public)”. I assume that sharing with the NSA is not considered “made public”.

  47. Tim pure says:

    Perhaps the reason is that these companies are being paid in the form of contracts with the NSA. With the exception of google the business models of these companies is flimsy at best… ie- Facebook is free to users. Milton Friedman was right… There is no such thing as a free lunch. Blame yourselves for wanting to believe in fairy tails of the “new economy”.

  48. This is not the first time they’ve sold us out. Aren’t these the same tech industry leaders who got up in front of the gang of 8 and asserted that they demanded to be able to fill 100K or more tech jobs on American soil without EVER having to look at an American’s resume or interview an American candidate? This is what kind of scum we are dealing with here, isn’t it?

  49. Meesta Meesta says:

    I wonder what it will take to finally push the American people over the edge. Their obviously corrupt government is rapidly painting the country they are supposed to love as an out of control bully shitting on everyone else. What will it take to finally set into motion a realistic plan to flush the bloated turd that is the two party system down the drain and install an organization that really looks out for its citizens? It’s time to wake up America, if it’s not allready too late.

  50. Bill Sanford says:

    As long as the leader of our technical companies cater to Political Correctness… we will never be safe or be able to trust them. They are fabulously Rich, desire adoration, and are willing to ‘play the game with liberals’ in order achieve recognition. They can afford it.

  51. Thiru says:

    You can’t handle the truth?

    • harrypeat says:

      I just googled a bunch of dodgy shit about these laws and not once did google fail to provide information. I think your computer is being monitored there, pal.

  52. Anon says:

    The government should use their new toy to find those people who are up-in-arms about this invasion of privacy, but that were also outraged that (e.g.) the Boston bombers were on the radar but not followed closely enough to prevent it from happening. I’d bet there’s a pretty large number that sit comfortably on both sides of the fence…

    • Sunrie says:

      The government is using it to identify people who don’t agree with their politics or administration. Second amendment first, fourth and fifth after that, then get rid of the first.

      It’s a classic tactic for anyone wanting complete power. First you get rid of the ability of the masses to defend themselves. Then to keep everyone “safe” and following the law, you make it so if “they have nothing to hide” then no big deal just rifling through their things. Once you do that, you make it so people report anyone they believe is breaking the law, and if they don’t, then you arrest them as well because a neighbor “should have” known what their neighbor was doing, and if the person doesn’t admit to it, then you force them to tell you. Once that’s done, you make it so no one speaks out against you, and if they do, you punish them severely.

      After all, who is going to stop them? You? You don’t have any power, the government has it all. They have all the weapons to “keep you safe”, they have all the power, they have say over what the media can and can’t report. It’s happening here just like it happened in Hitler’s Germany, Mao Zedong’s China (this administration has people who look up this psycho and they admit it!!!!!!!), and Kim Jong-Il’s North Korea.

      They are following Mein Kompf to the letter.

  53. Eize Hamood says:

    They are not cowards, here’s why. By calling them “cowards” you imply that they are “one of us” who could have stood up, but didn’t. You paint them as our potential champions, on the same side of the divide between taxpayers and tax absorbers.

    This is wrong.

    They are on the other side. They see us, their customers, as an endless sea of faceless disposable sources of energy to fuel their security.

    There are 2 nations under one flag. There are 2 systems of law. Will you risk losing privileges to advocate the rights of those who are incapable of understanding, let alone protecting, their position?

    >> History will not be kind to the people who say nothing.

    Actually, history will be indifferent to these guys the way she has always been. Read Plutarch, Livy, Tacitus, Suetonius. It’s those who stand up for the cowardly, ungrateful plebes who get the dagger.

    Stop using the services you feel betrayed by. Withdraw your money. Secede. There are no Messiahs but YOU.

  54. IM Sirius says:

    How many more times can the American people shrug and say “oh well” before our country is so undermined and disfigured we don’t recognize it anymore? These corrupt government officials are so shameless and out of control, they don’t even express shame when caught anymore. Instead they righteously declare they intended to prosecute the whistle blowers who revealed their scheming!

  55. are you all really this shocked? how can you be so naive? the news alone isn’t as shocking as hearing those that are just waking up to this situation. read between the lines and pay attention.

  56. gianna says:

    it never occurs to me thtat fb and/or google CEOs are able to deny, refuse or whatever, th tide of politics and fed spying, bc they are part and parcel with them…i dont see them as different from any gov entity…they are facilitators, and will lie and mislead as necessary until they are replaced by better liars…they are nothing more than defense contractors building roads and tentacles for their masters to use as they choose…

  57. segmation says:

    I know you heard today from Google CEO Larry Page and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Perhaps if they wrote their speeches and not their writers, maybe we would get the truth, right?.

  58. harrypeat says:

    Down with facebook! If everyone deletes their account, they have no power. It’s like taking down a bank. If everyone withdraws their money; presto! No more bank. Would you even miss facebook? Google, on the other hand, has reached such gigantic proportions as to be completely unstoppable. Soon it will be implanted directly into your brain to track your every thought, so as to better tailor the adverts. So this is progress.

  59. I wonder if that “conference call” has occurred yet. Suspect not.

  60. Sunrie says:

    Secretly getting rid of the 4th Amendment only because we still have a strong 2nd Amendment. They openly attack the 2nd while trying to skirt the 4th. When will people wake up? Keeping armed is the only thing stopping these people in the long run. It’s the reason for the 2A to exist in the first place.

    It think everyone should delete their Facebook and remove themselves from those facists’ control. They ban, delete, and suspend over anything they don’t agree with politically or morally.

    Welcome to the liberal progressive America, people. How’s it working out for you now?

  61. Daniel says:

    There is a section in various sites’ terms of service, such as Facebook, that states:

    “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with our IP License. This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

    Most people these days skip past the terms of service and ignore them, however I still don’t believe sites like Facebook should be allowed to basically take other people’s content and intellectual property through them simply using the site. They have too much power these days, or at least that’s my opinion.
    Good Post! :-)

  62. The Patriot Act includes a gag order that makes revealing cooperation with the Pat Act a felony. So, no.

  63. myninjanaan says:

    this article was s well thought out and written… you expressed everything i am feeling about this PRISM crap, but better :)

  64. heeh3212 says:

    In todays world, knowledge is power. The more information you have over someone gives you more power over them. No one is wiling to get rid of the power that they hold over others.

    http://utruthkn.wordpress.com

  65. We ought to make Snowden the hero of tech

  66. Bryn Marlow says:

    Yes, I can make the call for the CEOs to speak out, stand up, make a difference. Yet at the end of the hour, I can’t make them do anything. I ask myself what can I do, what am I going to do to speak my truth, to take my stand, to make the changes within my reach.

  67. Ward Mundy says:

    Remember when Google took offense with the Chinese government dictating what they could and could not include in Google search results? Looks pretty funny in retrospect. Talk about hands in the cookie jar.

  68. poissonnoir says:

    Reblogged this on Between Left and Right and commented:
    The NSA’s spying is getting out of hand. Something seriously needs to be done. Sign this petition and add your voice to the demands of the people. https://optin.stopwatching.us/

  69. poissonnoir says:

    This is a great article. I think what the NSA is doing is unacceptable. Praise be to Snowden and every other whistleblower.

  70. I don’t think Chad cares, Mike.

  71. What are the laws on fence near to my already fenced boundary near farmland?

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