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Even After NSA Leaks, Government Still Trusted Over Private Firms

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the you-can-trust-us dept.

Government 234

cold fjord writes "Computing reports on a U.K. survey: 'Governments remain the organizations most trusted by the public to handle personal data, despite revelations about surveillance and data collection schemes by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), the U.K.'s GCHQ and other governmental organizations around the world. That's according to research by accounting and consultancy firm Ernst & Young, which suggests that more than half of people — 55 per cent — say they're comfortable sharing personal information with central government organizations ... However, consumers are more wary about sharing their data with private companies. Just one-third told Ernst & Young that they're willing to share personal information with financial institutions, while one-quarter are happy to do so when it comes to their energy provider. Only one-fifth of those surveyed said they're comfortable sharing personal data with supermarkets. ... it was web firms that people were most claimed to be wary of sharing information with — fewer than one-in-10 said they were comfortable about sharing data with social networks, such as Facebook or web search engines like Google.'" Meanwhile, a pair of researchers have assessed the NSA's data gathering scheme and found, unsurprisingly, that it's probably not very cost effective (PDF). "Conceivably, as some maintain, there still exist some exceptionally dim-witted terrorists or would-be terrorists who are oblivious to the fact that their communications are rather less than fully secure. But such supreme knuckle-heads are surely likely to make so many mistakes — like advertising on Facebook or searching there or in chatrooms for co-conspirators — that sophisticated and costly communications data banks are scarcely needed to track them down."

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Interestingly enough (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 9 months ago | (#45861569)

Interestingly enough, the number of people willing to share information with a provider seems to correlate directly with the likelihood that the provider will spam you with "targetted advertising" and "special promotions."

Re:Interestingly enough (5, Insightful)

bondsbw (888959) | about 9 months ago | (#45861693)

I don't understand why that is such a big deal anyway. They are going to spam me with ads one way or the other; at least if I find value in the product or service being advertised, it's less of a waste of my time and perhaps it's even a valuable proposition.

But sure... let's give as much data to big brother as possible. I mean, there is absolutely nothing that a government could ever interpret--or misinterpret--from your data that could do you harm, right?

Re:Interestingly enough (4, Interesting)

YumoolaJohn (3478173) | about 9 months ago | (#45861769)

I don't want to give my information to either. And as someone already pointed out, any information in the hands of private companies will quickly be put into the hands of the government.

Re:Interestingly enough (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 9 months ago | (#45863065)

Which is what was great about the BBS era. We ran our own damn "social networks" on our own damn machines. Who's got all that data now, eh?

That's the difference between you humans and us, you get just enough of anything to be acceptable and give Darwin the finger, but we keep evolving no matter what. [slashdot.org]

Re:Interestingly enough (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861899)

Especially a government that now has access to your healthcare... I mean, heaven forbid I go browse to a tobacco website and be red flagged for health reasons.

Re:Interestingly enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862301)

Seriously, now you're just exaggerating.

Re:Interestingly enough (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45863075)

Actually, no; he is not. Ask most any state employee in VA that has paid attention in the last six months. Unfortunately, most tend to ignore the updates from HR.

Re:Interestingly enough (5, Insightful)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | about 9 months ago | (#45862081)

I don't understand why that is such a big deal anyway. They are going to spam me with ads one way or the other; at least if I find value in the product or service being advertised, it's less of a waste of my time and perhaps it's even a valuable proposition.

That's because targeted ads are failures. You research and then buy a pair of shoes online and they spam you with shoe ads for the next month when you are no longer interested.

What we need to be worried about are not ads that try (and miserably fail) at showing you stuff you might want to buy. We need to be worried about them using all of that personal information to manipulate you into wasting money.

One recent example is how Orbitz puts higher priced hotels at the top of the list for people using macintoshes. [forbes.com] The real risk to each and every one of us is their ability to figure out your mental weaknesses and use them against you so that you spend more money than you should. It is the Big Data version of bikini models in beer commercials. Lots of people like to think they are immune to advertising - but nobody is 100% immune to millions of dollars worth of research on manipulation of the human mind.

Re:Interestingly enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862967)

I don't understand why that is such a big deal anyway. They are going to spam me with ads one way or the other; at least if I find value in the product or service being advertised, it's less of a waste of my time and perhaps it's even a valuable proposition.

That's because targeted ads are failures. You research and then buy a pair of shoes online and they spam you with shoe ads for the next month when you are no longer interested.

What we need to be worried about are not ads that try (and miserably fail) at showing you stuff you might want to buy. We need to be worried about them using all of that personal information to manipulate you into wasting money.

One recent example is how Orbitz puts higher priced hotels at the top of the list for people using macintoshes. [forbes.com] The real risk to each and every one of us is their ability to figure out your mental weaknesses and use them against you so that you spend more money than you should. It is the Big Data version of bikini models in beer commercials. Lots of people like to think they are immune to advertising - but nobody is 100% immune to millions of dollars worth of research on manipulation of the human mind.

Whoa... mental weakness?

You shouldn't look at it in absolutes buddy. A person who makes X is going to spend Y. All an advertiser wants is a bigger slice of Y.

When you look at Y in absolute terms, buying a Mac or spending more on a hotel might be like buying imported beer vs domestic to someone with less Y. Getting us to spend more on beer or computers vs other things is very much their goal. Maybe Orbitz found a correlation between more expensive computers and willing to spend more on hotels, big surprise there, but don't talk about how much money we SHOULD spend absolutely, these aren't the same hotels for more money, nor the same computers.

Someone spends too much on beer/computers when they can't afford necessities, not when they buy imports/Macs.
Beer companies are rewarding people for watching a game vs. non-drinking activity like going to movies, that's really what that is.

Re:Interestingly enough (2)

peragrin (659227) | about 9 months ago | (#45862285)

As the other poster stated. targeted ads are always failures.

Once a year I hit up all the major car companies to look at the new models. I go to every one to see the cars I can't afford in my dreams down to potential cars. For the next 2 months I see nothing but ads for cars that I really don't want to buy.

I shop for christmas gifts, all I see is ads for stuff I either bought, or ignored as it wasn't what I wanted.

I have not once seen a target ad that was actually useful.

Re:Interestingly enough (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#45861733)

Even more interestingly, this survey was conducted in The United Kingdom. If the same survey was done in America, it would likely have a very different result.

Re:Interestingly enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861803)

Indeed. I'm too lazy to look for studies to support this, but there has, for a long time, been much anecdotal support for the notion that Europeans trust their governments more than corporations, while Americans trust – naively – corporations more than the government.

It would seem to be a cultural thing. Anyone have links to studies?

Re:Interestingly enough (1)

Adam Colley (3026155) | about 9 months ago | (#45861837)

We don't trust them so much these days...

The Con-Dem coalition has to be the worst government we've had in nearly 20 years and I was a Lib-Dem member!

The only thing that will prevent a labour landslide next time is them keeping that overgrown public schoolboy as leader.

Re:Interestingly enough (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 9 months ago | (#45862421)

Yes, political leadership is becoming considerably posher [youtube.com] these days. I'm waiting for the old boys to begin placing school bullys in government. Perhaps the Home office?

Re:Interestingly enough (4, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#45861987)

Americans trust – naively – corporations more than the government.

Why is that naive? Corporations want money. Governments want power, and "more money" is only a subset of that. Corporations know that if they abuse my trust too much, they will lose my business. Governments have no such limitations on their abuse. Governments can send men with guns to kick in my front door. I have very little trust in corporations, but even less in government. That is not "naive", but rational.

Re:Interestingly enough (1, Interesting)

Shavano (2541114) | about 9 months ago | (#45862317)

On the other hand, if you have representative government, you can fire it, with a little help from your friends.

Re:Interestingly enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862349)

Americans trust – naively – corporations more than the government.

Why is that naive?

Consider that when I get a prescription filled for, oh, let's say, Lipitor. What's to stop the pharmacy from selling that information to health and life insurance companies. Companies that can use that information to charge me more or possibly even deny me coverage. Americans definitely are naive about turning over that kind of private information without considering where it's going to end up. (Can you say Target credit card breach?)

All of which is not to say that health and life insurance companies aren't entitled to charge me more if I'm a higher risk. They just can't find out about it by buying information about me from other companies that shouldn't be divulging privileged information about me.

I could go on....

Re:Interestingly enough (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#45862467)

Consider that when I get a prescription filled for, oh, let's say, Lipitor. What's to stop the pharmacy from selling that information to health and life insurance companies

So you lied to your insurance company about your pre-existing health conditions, and now you are upset because they found out the truth? So your worst-case-scenario is that consumers can not longer commit fraud?

Re:Interestingly enough (2)

Uberbah (647458) | about 9 months ago | (#45862693)

So you lied to your insurance company about your pre-existing health conditions

So you like setting up straw men and then setting them on fire? Which insurance company do you work for?

Re:Interestingly enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862401)

Letsee... government versus a corporation. Government, of course:

1: Governments have -some- accountability somewhere. Companies can, if worst case, just file bankruptcy and have the last laugh.

2: Governments can't just jump nations and demand that you deal with them in some other court system, namely one they bought.

3: Governments at least have, somewhere, some responsibility to their citizens/subjects. Companies only exist for the bottom line.

4: Governments keep the gangbangers and the druggies from kicking my door, taking my family for ransom, and raping my dog just for a YouTube video. For the same protection with a company, it would be many thousands a month, and there is a good chance the guards would turn on me at any time.

5: Companies don't pave roads, nor make interstates.

I'll take government anytime. At least they actually do something for the population other than show a CEO with his Lear jet.

Re:Interestingly enough (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45863019)

Letsee....

1. They do? Like the NSA? We can dispose of a company simply by not doing business with them. Have you ever tried disposing of a government? How quickly do you think you can turn around an entire government? One lifetime? Two? You might want to read up on some history.

2. Neither can companies. What country do you live in that allows /corporations/ to extradite you? Now if you break a government written law on the other hand, the government will be happy to extradite you.

3. Again, are you sure about that? Governments by nature are designed to last forever. It's extremely rare for a corporation to exist as a major economic force for more than a single generation. Companies have a responsibility to their customers and their board of directors.

4. No, governments don't do that. For the most part, individual morality does that, then self defense, then community defense, and then, finally, governments - and even then only on a local scale.

5. Sure they do. They're called toll roads. What do you think government contractors do?

You're kidding right? What do you think the US Presidency is? He's a CEO that makes a Lear jet look like a kids toy flanked by highly trained personnel there to kill you if you get to close.

Re:Interestingly enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45863099)

And there we have it folks - there many degrees of blindness in the kingdom of the blind.

Re:Interestingly enough (1)

easyTree (1042254) | about 9 months ago | (#45863109)

Why does this need to be a choice between being kicked or punched? Neither are fun (for me - ymmv.)

Re:Interestingly enough (1)

AmazingRuss (555076) | about 9 months ago | (#45862465)

This is why corporations control the government through campaign donations. That way they get the best of both worlds.

Careful... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862519)

Americans do NOT generally trust corporations more than government; Americans tend to trust free markets, competition, and entrepreneurs more than government.

In a marketplace, competition will, generally, drive the bad actors to fail and reward the good actors. Government, operating without competition, feels no pressure to perform and tends instead to respond to the demands of the politically-connected. Unfortunately, many parts of the formerly-free-market economy have been so regulated and manipulated by government for so many decades (like the healthcare sector) that the free market looks bad and seems to provide the ammunition its critics need to replace it with something worse: big government (which made the markets bad in the first place).

Big corporations are no better than big government - and for the same reason: Lots of power concentrated in the hands of a few fallible/corruptible people. The big differences between them are [a] big business cannot legally jail you or kill you if it turns on you like big government can, and [b] if you have a problem with a business you can appeal to government, but if you have a problem with government you are stuck.

Re:Careful... (0)

geminidomino (614729) | about 9 months ago | (#45862739)

Americans do NOT generally trust corporations more than government; Americans tend to trust free markets, competition, and entrepreneurs more than government.

Careful yourself.

A noisy subset of Americans trust those in fairy tales like "free markets." Another subset trusts fairy tales like "a trustworthy government." Not nearly enough recognize both for the bullshit they are.

Re:Careful... (2)

Sique (173459) | about 9 months ago | (#45862799)

In a marketplace, competition will, generally, drive the bad actors to fail and reward the good actors.

The problem with this is that "good" and "bad" are determined in the terms of the market and not in terms of the individual. You as a person are not a market. There is no guarantee that you get to become an actor in the market. There is nothing per se that causes the definition of good in the market to somehow correlate to the definition of good for you. The only way get some correlation is by the individuals to bound together and change the market rules until there is some fit.

People usually call this "having a government and laws and regulations and get them enforced."

If someone sings the high praise of the free, unregulated market, you can be sure that he either has no clue about this, or contrary, that he knows it very well and just wants you to give up the part of the regulation that caused to morph the market more in your direction and less in his.

Even further (4, Funny)

s.petry (762400) | about 9 months ago | (#45862139)

The Study was done by sampling "whom" exactly? From TFA I see That's according to research by accounting and consultancy firm Ernst & Young, which suggests that more than half of people - 55 per cent - say they're comfortable sharing personal information with central government organisations, such as HM Revenue & Customs and the NHS. but I see no data on who was polled, what the sample rate was, etc...

99.28% of all statistics are manipulated to present a wanted message, 68.7% of those are made up on the spot, and 0.035% of them are actually correct.

Re:Even further (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862949)

The Study was done by sampling "whom" exactly? From TFA I see That's according to research by accounting and consultancy firm Ernst & Young, which suggests that more than half of people - 55 per cent - say they're comfortable sharing personal information with central government organisations, such as HM Revenue & Customs and the NHS. but I see no data on who was polled, what the sample rate was, etc... 99.28% of all statistics are manipulated to present a wanted message, 68.7% of those are made up on the spot, and 0.035% of them are actually correct.

73.2% of Anonymous Cowards disagree with the above.

Re:Even further (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862961)

99.28% of all statistics are manipulated to present a wanted message, 68.7% of those are made up on the spot, and 0.035% of them are actually correct.

Yes, we're familiar with your work. ;D

Re:Interestingly enough (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#45861779)

The governments already know anything important about you.
Non-phone utilities provide necessary basic services, and have an undeserved reputation of trailing tech by decades. They are heavily regulated.
What do you get in exchange for giving all your life details for FB and Google to package and resell? Convenience
Guess which ones I'd rather hand confidential details to.

We could trust private firms also... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861605)

if it wasn't for them damned profit margins

Re:We could trust private firms also... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861643)

Trusting any of them is damn stupid.

Re:We could trust private firms also... (3, Interesting)

Pentium100 (1240090) | about 9 months ago | (#45861715)

Yea, the government is supposed to work for the people. Sometimes it does that, sometimes it doesn't. Even the spying is supposed to be "for the greater good" as in preventing terrorism etc.

OTOH, private companies work for their shareholders and try to earn as much profit as possible.

NSA kept the spying secret and the information it collected was secret too. OTOH, if a private company was able to do the same spying as NSA did, it would turn right around and sell the information to the highest bidder. And probably would not act on any information about impending terrorist attacks, unless those attacks were aimed at the company.

Also, the government was elected by the people.

So, in the best case, the government is better than a private company (looking after the people). In the worst case, it is exactly like a private company (looking after its pockets).

Re:We could trust private firms also... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861743)

sometimes it doesn't.

Particularly when you give it powers it shouldn't have, and when you allow it to act in secrecy. That's exactly what's happening with the NSA, so expect that easily exploitable power to be abused.

Re:We could trust private firms also... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861847)

So, in the best case, the government is better than a private company (looking after the people). In the worst case, it is exactly like a private company (looking after its pockets).

You're wrong. The NSA has used its secret information to decide to kill American citizens, to kidnap them and torture them, to destroy people's lives.

A private corporation will do what, annoy you with a targeted ad? Hardly the same thing at all.

Re:We could trust private firms also... (3, Interesting)

Pentium100 (1240090) | about 9 months ago | (#45861925)

Currently there are laws against a private company killing someone. If such laws didn't exist, you would see private companies killing people more often than the USSR government under Stalin did.

Hell, there are illegitimate private companies that could be hired to dispatch someone...

Re:We could trust private firms also... (2, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 9 months ago | (#45862049)

They would exist, but they would be very, very unpopular and probably less common than they are today. Killing people is hard and dangerous. In a free market, it would be very expensive for anyone good at it, and anybody bad at it wouldn't stay in business very long. That's why you see violent organized crime pop up when there is highly profitable contraband. The rewards, or at least the potential rewards, are great in those markets, so you can convince someone to kill for that.

Re:We could trust private firms also... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862653)

This is naive. Companies have done and do terrible things and the market does nothing to curtail it. After the Ludlow massacre Rockefeller was temporarily unpopular, so what did he do? He hired a publicist. People loved him, he suffered no criminal or financial penalties.

How about a more recent example? Coke killed several union organizers [soaw.org] in Columbia in the nineties. As a result, they suffered through a temporary and ineffective boycott. No other repercussions, most people didn't even hear about it.

Re:We could trust private firms also... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862927)

What American citizens have they killed?

Re:We could trust private firms also... (4, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#45861879)

In the worst case, it is exactly like a private company (looking after its pockets).

No. That is not the worst case. The worst case for government is when they murder millions of their own citizens. Like this [wikipedia.org] , this [wikipedia.org] , this [wikipedia.org] , this [wikipedia.org] , or this [wikipedia.org] .

Re:We could trust private firms also... (1)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about 9 months ago | (#45862943)

In the worst case, it is exactly like a private company (looking after its pockets).

No. That is not the worst case. The worst case for government is when they murder millions of their own citizens. Like this [wikipedia.org] , this [wikipedia.org] , this [wikipedia.org] , this [wikipedia.org] , or this [wikipedia.org] .

You don't think a private company would kill as well for their own ends?

The scale might be different, but in that case, what's stopping them is fear of the law. If not, what are the chances you think a corporation would poison the water supply or food supply of millions for their own short sighted ends?

Re:We could trust private firms also... (1)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about 9 months ago | (#45862985)

In the worst case, it is exactly like a private company (looking after its pockets).

No. That is not the worst case. The worst case for government is when they murder millions of their own citizens. Like this [wikipedia.org] , this [wikipedia.org] , this [wikipedia.org] , this [wikipedia.org] , or this [wikipedia.org] .

You don't think a private company would kill as well for their own ends?

The scale might be different, but in that case, what's stopping them is fear of the law. If not, what are the chances you think a corporation would poison the water supply or food supply of millions for their own short sighted ends?

And as evidence, I submit this one case:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

You could make the argument that slavery was allowed by the us government, but it was also the institution of government that allowed it, and it was private companies making use of slavery.

Re: We could trust private firms also... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862563)

If a company could prevent terrorism, they would go in that business and try to make a profit out of it, by preventing terrorism.

Re: We could trust private firms also... (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | about 9 months ago | (#45862567)

Unless participating in terrorism resulted in higher profits.

Re:We could trust private firms also... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862841)

Yea

Are you voting on something and what exactly was the vote?

Re:We could trust private firms also... (2)

hey! (33014) | about 9 months ago | (#45861737)

We would trust private firms also if we could vote them out of business.

Re:We could trust private firms also... (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#45862109)

We would trust private firms also if we could vote them out of business.

You can. Stop buying their products.

Now, try voting the NSA out of business. They are going to still be there regardless of who wins the next election.

Re:We could trust private firms also... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862153)

We would trust private firms also if we could vote them out of business.

You can. Stop buying their products.

They types of companies that we'd all like to "vote out of business" are not the kinds of companies that sell to consumers. They are the corporations that sell to our government.

Re:We could trust private firms also... (1)

hey! (33014) | about 9 months ago | (#45862283)

Alright, how do I, for example, vote Cisco out of business?

Or take Facebook. Even if I don't use it, other people do, and they don't like Facebook's privacy policies they see Facebook as an essential service.

That points the way to a better analogy. Most of us would allow that the NSA does certain essential services, we don't like the way Obama is running it. But we have a mechanism by which we can vote the NSA a new boss who would make it run differently.

So what we'd need to trust private industry more is a mechanism to vote out a private firm's management and vote in a new management. Since we can't do that without violating the stockholders' property rights, that means that private industry will always be less trustworthy than government, low as that benchmark might be.

Re:We could trust private firms also... (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#45862661)

Alright, how do I, for example, vote Cisco out of business?

Stop buying their products, and convince others to do the same. If enough people agree with you, Cisco will either go out of business, or more likely, change their behavior.

But we have a mechanism by which we can vote the NSA a new boss who would make it run differently.

No we don't. Do you think that Romney would have done a better job at reining them in? Do you seriously believe that any plausible candidate in 2016 will be any better?

Four years from now, I think Cisco's behavior will have improved a lot more than the NSA's.

Re:We could trust private firms also... (2)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 9 months ago | (#45862823)

If I don't like the present Administration, and I voted against it, does it go away? No - more people voted for it than against it. Much like your Facebook analogy. Your individual desire does not make or break any single institution.

But that's not the point; the point is - like you - we can choose to NOT interact with Facebook. No page, no e-mails, nothing (for the record, I never signed up for Facebook and have zero interaction with that company). Now try to not interact with a Government you do not agree with. You have no choice but to obey its laws, pay its taxes, observe its commands - or you end up in prison. Facebook, Cisco, and other corporations cannot change the rules on you and then force you to associate with them and live by their rules; only Government can do that.

Between Government and corporations, the former has all the power - which is why the latter gives so much money to those in control of the former, for their own benefits. But understand that if Government didn't have absolute power and sway over your life, corporations wouldn't give Government a second look. It is the power of Government that rules, and corporations try to influence it. But it's still the power of Government.

Loaded Questions? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861631)

It's far more likely that they simply don't have a choice. If I could choose between having a private company handle my data eg. Driver's info, Financial info I would choose a private company every time, but you simply don't get the choice.

I would be interested to know that the actual survey was, the questions were most likely loaded, It's quite easy to get the result you want from a well worded survey.

Re:Loaded Questions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861689)

Why on earth would you trust a private company? Their only reason for existing is to screw you out of your money, in any way possible, with no scruples or accountability. If the Government doesn't create laws governing how they can use your private information, a private company will sell it to anyone and everyone who is willing to pay for it.

Re:Loaded Questions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861857)

I don't trust private companies. But I do trust them more than I trust our government. Private companies don't want to arrest, jail and torture me (well, not unless they are working for the our government).

I have done nothing wrong, and I have nothing to hide, but the government doesn't really care. "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)

Re:Loaded Questions? (4, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 9 months ago | (#45861995)

A private organization can exist for any number of reasons, and the means through which they get money from you don't need to involve you getting screwed. Believe it or not, a transaction can exist for mutual benefit.

Re:Loaded Questions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862233)

A lot of private company's exist with actual ethics and are actually responsible for thier data (well most company's until they get a huge amount of money can can basically do what ever they want. Dont let a few bad "apples" ruin the basket)

The company I would give my data too, would be responsible for protecting the data, and loss of said data would tank thier business, unlike the govt even when they get hacked/breached nothing happens apart from a minor slap on the wrist and even a few times the breach has been unreported and only later found out.

Um... Wait... (1)

MobSwatter (2884921) | about 9 months ago | (#45861675)

Let me ask the rock tossing, cave dwelling terrorist to take a good look at his Iphone and ask him his opinion on the subject....

He reported back that he has no place to plug it in his aftermarket charger, not even Apple can at get him with fire!

In other news; the Unobtainium['computer_insecurity'] market for government peddled corporate espionage is booming!

What's the difference? (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 9 months ago | (#45861683)

The private companies are collecting the data for the government.

There's a big difference (3, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 9 months ago | (#45862709)

Private companies are collecting the data for PROFIT. It just turns out that governments are clients (even forced disclosures are generally compensated...some very, very well). Government has a much more limited scope. 99.99999% of the time they're just looking for "bad guys," and the other 0.00001%* of the time some corrupt official is trying to profit off of it or you accidentally look like a "bad guy". The odds are still in your favor if the government is the one doing the collecting.

*note: this is a guess, but it's based on a random supposition that - in the last year - the governments we are discussing (US, UK, EU) have targeted less than 700 completely innocent people in any given year using the NSAs (or UK or EU equiv.) surveillance dragnets. If you have a list longer than that, then the percentage may be higher. Note that, in a typical year, the odds of winning $1,000,000 or more in the Powerball lottery with a single ticket purchased in each drawing is 0.0002%, so even if I'm off in my estimate by an order of magnitude, you still have a much better chance of becoming a Powerball millionaire than being accidentally (or intentionally, but falsely) targetted by the government. I can guarantee that Google, Verizon, and Facebook will sell any data you give them, 100% chance.

Re:There's a big difference (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 9 months ago | (#45862845)

In the US, it seems that the corporations are collecting the data at the demand of Government. They are doing the bidding of the Government out of self-preservation, not a motive profit. See PRISM [wikipedia.org] for clarification. The NSA demands, and with the force of the US Government behind it, there's not much Google, Apple or other corporations can do to say "no".

Well trained (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861701)

Decades of filling minds with hate for everything not Government working as intended. Half the nation cashes Government benny checks at least monthly and the other half have a whole spectrum of bennies factored into their future.

The Powers That Be are patiently waiting for their subjects to get used to the on-going reality of NSA scrutiny. They know that as long as they keep those EBT cards refilled their dependents aren't going to stay angry.

So don't expect much from the "people." They're bought and paid for.

Re:Well trained (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861777)

the 20 year olds always hate the government and think the rules are a waste
by the time they reach their mid to late 30's they change their minds after living among people

NSA has been "spying" on people for decades and as a society we have become more liberal and free during this time

Re:Well trained (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862275)

you have more freedom now? well you don't live in the US then.

It's not about Thrust. (1)

Lisias (447563) | about 9 months ago | (#45861749)

It's about money.

These guys are making money with all that "Surveillance" paranoia.

Simple like that.

Re:It's not about Thrust. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861873)

For me, baby, it's all about the Thrust... oooooh

in other news... (0, Flamebait)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about 9 months ago | (#45861753)

...people know more about what the kardashians are wearing or what miley cyprus is wreaking then what their elected officials are voting on.

it's far from surprising people "trust" their governments...over 50% of them (is the US) pay nothing into the system yet reap untold benefits.

Re:in other news... (4, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 9 months ago | (#45862103)

over 50% of them (is the US) pay nothing into the system yet reap untold benefits.

1. The survey was in the UK so your US-based views don't apply.
2. That claim is based on the fact 50% pay no income tax, but it is false to extend that to "paying nothing into the system": In many cases, that means they pay every other kind of tax, including payroll, sales (gasoline, cigarettes, etc), state and municipal income taxes, and sometimes property taxes. They also pay in fees for various government services, such as driver's licensing.
3. Most of those that actually pay no taxes at all do so because they have the audacity to be children under the age of 16, or retirees who don't have any income besides Social Security.

Re:in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862953)

People do not have enough information to make informed points of view. People assume because something can be done means that it is being done. People also assume the worst and that there is rampant abuse of these systems. Congress, the Department of Justice, the White House, and the FISC court have known about these programs for years. Procedures and checks and balances are in place to make sure things are not abused. The problem with the NSA story is folks do not want to understand what is going on. They want to make snap judgments and flame the government.

If folks don't like what is going on then they should vote for change. If they are not going to put their vote where their mouth is then they need to stop talking about the NSA and move on.

That actually (sort of) makes sense. (4, Interesting)

Valacosa (863657) | about 9 months ago | (#45861755)

Ostensibly government exists to provide services. It's reasonable that one would have to provide information in the course of receiving these services. But, if a for-profit corporation is asking for personal information, it's almost assured to be part of a scheme to extract money from me.

Or to put it another way, there's only a very small chance government thugs will use my address to knock down my door, but a very large chance a company will use my address to send me spam. So I don't see why the result of the study is surprising.

Before you all flame me, I'm not American, and neither is this study.

Make a lot of sense... (4, Insightful)

trims (10010) | about 9 months ago | (#45862147)

For as bad as the NSA and GCHQ programs are/were, there is at least some reasonable way to restrict them from damage.

For corporations, there's effectively no limit to the amount of damage they can do.

Yes, government-level info gathering can result in some pretty awful things - prison, in the least, for a limited number of people. A breakdown in trust of government as a whole, however, is probably the worst thing such pervasive intrusion can cause. BUT, we have relatively fast control over this kind of behavior. We (citizens) simply pitch a fit to our representatives, and a loud enough fit (aided hopefully by expose from people like Edward Snowden) gets results rather quickly (weeks or months). The NSA policies and practices are changing, as we speak. In the end, government is responsible to the people, and if enough of society says to change the policy, it gets changed.

Compare that to information gathering and use by a company. It's regulated by? Well, if you're lucky, the government. If not, then by nobody. And there's no oversight at all. They pretty much can do whatever they want with it, and there's virtually nothing the average citizen can do about it, even in large numbers. The company's management controls the data, and they're pretty much completely insulated from outside influence. Not even stockholders have much say here. And there's virtually no penalty for them misusing it. Take the Target debit card leak. It's a very temporary, minor PR problem. They're not on the hook for any damage they cause those people by mishandling their info. And that's a minor case - think of all the places where corporations buy and sell info for no benefit of the individual, profit from it, and usually to the detriment of the individual.

I'm in no way saying that government info gathering is good - we need to keep a close eye on it at all times. However, corporate information gathering and trading is infinitely more damaging to society, especially in unregulated places such as the USA. At least we have a reasonably ability to correct government oversteps - when was the last time you saw a company penalized (or heck, even substantially change its policies) due to mishandling of individual data?

Thanks, but I'll trust a representative government long before I'll trust a private, for-profit entity.

-Erik

Re:Make a lot of sense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862811)

You're an idiot.

Re trust a representative government (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 9 months ago | (#45862973)

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/20/union-to-sue-construction-firms-blacklisting-allegations [theguardian.com]
Undercover police had children with activists
http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/jan/20/undercover-police-children-activists [theguardian.com]
"Derry interrogation centre hidden from torture inquiry"
http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/derry-interrogation-centre-hidden-from-torture-inquiry-1.1486059 [irishtimes.com]
The results of UK public, private, police, military, signals intelligence work can make for interesting reading over the years. In the past you had to take part in protests, be seen or be informed on. In a more digital age a lot more sections of the UK gov and private sector are been invited to look over files and submit reports or will have expanded information 'logging' powers. Recall what powers the UK gov wanted see used on the internet?
"Changes to council surveillance powers"
http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/66244.article [lawgazette.co.uk]
A lot of councils, government departments and various quangos (quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation) where to get new telco related powers

Fools. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861759)

I understand - though I don't approve - why businesses want my data. I am of some value to them. The government? They have zero commercial interest in me. They only want to punish people with what they find out (or think they've pieced together).

Gov personal information vs spy drag net? (1, Redundant)

AHuxley (892839) | about 9 months ago | (#45861795)

Thats some interesting take on everyday legal gov use vs a vast domestic surveillance network.
People are happy too or have to interact with "central government organisations, such as HM Revenue & Customs and the NHS"
Kind of hard not to pay your tax, collect a pension, apply for benefits (e.g. help with heating bills), enjoy the benefits of the National Health Service.
Energy provider - again kind of hard not to pay your bill, seek a better rate.
Supermarkets - people do enjoy their rewards, discounts.
Thanks to Snowden and many other whistleblowers like him the UK can now more fully understand how their everyday net usage and other databases can be combined under sigint development.
Sigint development seems new from around 1994 via Ripa for 'targeted surveillance" now moving on as Tempora and Prism.
http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2013/jun/21/legal-loopholes-gchq-spy-world [theguardian.com]
We do recall http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempora [wikipedia.org] ?
The UK is now waking up to the reality of the "five eyes" sharing, along with a few nations who are extra good friends of the US, contractors, ex and former UK staff, ex and former UK contractors, ex and former five eyes staff and contractors...
Thats a lot of people with insight into junk GCHQ/NSA encryption standards, the telco systems and national databases...
So enjoy your http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/oct/25/leaked-memos-gchq-mass-surveillance-secret-snowden [theguardian.com]
"GCHQ lobbied furiously to keep secret the fact that telecoms firms had gone "well beyond" what they were legally required to do to help intelligence agencies"
"GCHQ feared a legal challenge under the right to privacy in the Human Rights Act if evidence of its surveillance methods became admissible in court."
"GCHQ assisted the Home Office in lining up sympathetic people to help with "press handling"" - nice to have skilled sock puppets - just like we see on slashdot :)

choices (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861809)

- Would you rather be raped by an African or a Japanese guy?
- I prefer not to be raped!
- That choice is not available.
- Ok, kitte kudasai.

Maybe it's not for catching terrorists... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861813)

Maybe the NSA isn't focused on capturing terrorists, but instead; manipulating elected officials.

Re:Maybe it's not for catching terrorists... (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 9 months ago | (#45861871)

Maybe the NSA isn't focused on capturing terrorists, but instead; manipulating elected officials.

A certain amount of that is very likely true: NSA/GCHQ officials will do what is needed to keep their funding. Since they deal in uncertain maybes (maybe if we do this we will catch another terrorist/paedophile) they just produce the documents to worry those who control the purse strings. Which elected official would want to be named as the one who cut the funding that let in a bomber/... ?

Because the govt is not a whore. (2)

csumpi (2258986) | about 9 months ago | (#45861827)

Because the government is not a whore. Yes, they collect data, too. But they don't turn around, spread their legs, and sell it to whoever pays $20 for it.

Re:Because the govt is not a whore. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861915)

Instead, they 'share' it with blue chip stock corporations... so I guess the government isn't a whore, just a simple sleazy slut

Re:Because the govt is not a whore. (1)

danlip (737336) | about 9 months ago | (#45861963)

In this analogy the corporations at least buy them dinner first.

Re:Because the govt is not a whore. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861939)

Yeah, the government can only change the laws and use that data to stuff you in a deep, dark hole for the rest of your life if they find your opinions disturbing.

If those are the alternatives, I'd sorta rather have my data whored out for $20, thanks.

Re:Because the govt is not a whore. (1)

danlip (737336) | about 9 months ago | (#45862029)

There is not much I deliberately submit to the government that they can really use against me. I of course worry about all the stuff they are collecting without my consent but not about the stuff I a submitting to them. So if the survey is asking about that I might answer in the same way. Big corporations are going to use my data to annoy me, and fringe sites might sell it to every spammer in the world, but the government won't do either. Of course the other question is how competent is the IT/security department - will they get hacked? There is so much incompetence in both the government and corporations that it is hard to know which is worse.

Re:Because the govt is not a whore. (2)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 9 months ago | (#45862875)

I don't have to share my information with corporations, but when the IRS comes asking to see my last 7 years of tax receipts, or the ATF comes to "inspect" the storage of my firearms, I either provide the information they ask or take a ride to jail. The ultimate power over individuals resides in Government; it is because of that power that corporations pay billions to those who run Government - to try to get a little control, however briefly, over that power. But rest assured, it is Government who can demand information from you - and if you don't provide it, they can choose to simply lock you away. No trial needed.

Especially if it's a "free" service. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45861877)

Government does "government stuff" with your data. Unless they've been followed around by black helicopters or the politician they irrationally hate is in office, most people are indifferent. (But I'd stop short of saying they don't care.)
Private firms make money with your data. Whether it's sending you ads, sharing your search/purchase data with others (we've all looked up something on Amazon, then suddenly started seeing ads for it or similar on other sites,) if not outright selling your name and address. People generally don't like others making money off of their actions without compensation or consent; though they probably gave up that up with they jumped straight to the bottom of the site's TOS and clicked "I agree."

Re:Especially if it's a "free" service. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 9 months ago | (#45862085)

Yeah, looking at the length of all of those TOS boilerplate pages, if you actually did read them, you'd probably do nothing but reading them. Since everyone pretty much just skips to the end, and it is well known and common practice not to read them, I doubt most of the terms are enforceable.

Further, many of them are for updates to products you've already purchased, placed in a click-through that holds the functionality you purchased for ransom. Those are almost certainly completely unenforceable, other than the first one where you presumably had an opportunity to decline and get a refund.

I'm no lawyer, though, so I guess we can assume there's probably some legal chicanery that they use to convince the law lords to give them all the power.

The government exists to serve private firms (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 9 months ago | (#45862043)

It is there to protect them from us slaves. In effect, it is a private security company. Why would anybody trust that?

Recent US surveys have 2/3 not trusting (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 9 months ago | (#45862273)

And similar results in Canada.

Why?

Because they are spying on you, and selling your data to other countries.

Results matter.

Hint: Try getting rid of oil instead.

It's not about fighting terrorism (1)

Error27 (100234) | about 9 months ago | (#45862305)

Reasonable people don't believe that Angela Merkel is a terrorist. Instead talking about terrorism, it's more important to talk about how the NSA spying benifits us during trade negotiations.

Technically, I suppose it doesn't benifit all of "us"... Oh well. Sucks to be you I guess.

We're Doomed (1)

Froggels (1724218) | about 9 months ago | (#45862337)

This cannot be good.

In the end.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862525)

I think that western governments are simply not capable of long term concealment of information from the voting public. Things that they aren't supposed to do will eventually get leaked if for no other reason than the fact that what they are doing is everybody's business, and so everybody is going to always keep trying to find out.

Private corporations,on the other hand, are another matter... any given one simply will not have the same vast numbers of people trying to constantly find out whatever it is that they may be concealing from people, so I think in the end, it's more likely that unscrupulous practices are more likely to be carried out undetected by said organizations, even though it is also much more likely that, if they are caught, the consequences for them could be quite severe.

So it's less about trusting the government more than private firms than it is that the government is just that much more likely to get caught at doing something they aren't supposed to... at least in the long run.

It's not about trust (0)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 9 months ago | (#45862537)

I trust the NSA. I CERTAINLY trust the ordinary people who work there. What I don't trust today are the actions of a small set of players within that organization who have proven themselves to be liars. What I don't trust going forward are the structural safeguards which must stand against the actions of future, unknown people who will come to work there or command those who work there.

It's not about feelings of trust. It's about the ability to trust but verify.

"Most Trusted" ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862553)

... Is a relative term. I can distrust You but still trust You more than the next Person.

No surprise here. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862669)

So far the only group I've seen drive by my house, take pictures of me without my consent, then post them on a public medium is Google, not the government. And that is why I will never speak to someone wearing Google Glass but I will tolerate CCTV cameras on street corners, because I'm fairly confident the footage from those CCTV cameras isn't going to end up on a public medium anyone can access.

What the NSA's budget SHOULD be (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862673)

Take the average number of people killed in the US per year by terrorism. Call this A.
Take the average number of people killed in the US per year by road traffic accidents. Call this B.
Take the budget devoted to road safety and divide by B to get the yearly budget per RTA victim.
Take this budget per RTA victim and multiply by A. This is what should be spent on counter terrorism. Thousands {Millions?) of times less than the current value. Spending more than this formula arrives at is somehow legitimising the idea that the death of a terrorism victim is more tragic than a RTA victim. If the averages change over time then of course the budgets can change. But this ratio should always be maintained.

Not suprising (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 9 months ago | (#45862817)

This is hardly surprising. Government is supposed (please note the "supposed") to act for the general interest, which should (please note the "should") be aligned with citizen interest. Private companies work for their owner's interests, which are much less likely to align with the user's interests.

The issues here are "supposed" and "should". Obviously people do not consider yet their government as oppressive. The question is what can we do if a government turns oppressive, once we let it have those great oppression tools.

It's about the fact that you don't understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45862909)

People do not have enough information to make informed points of view. People assume because something can be done means that it is being done. People also assume the worst and that there is rampant abuse of these systems.

Congress, the Department of Justice, the White House, and the FISC court have known about these programs for years. Procedures and checks and balances are in place to make sure things are not abused. Congress approved them and has supported them.

If you don't like what is going on vote for change. If you are not going to put your vote where your mouth stop talking about it and move on.

Hope springs eternal (1)

bfr99 (1729262) | about 9 months ago | (#45862935)

In the perhaps foolish hope that some of you are not content in your ignorance, I recommend reading the Federalist Paper 51: http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa51.htm [constitution.org] .

Re:Hope springs eternal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45863069)

The NSA programs are 1) authorized and reviewed by congress , 2) overseen by the Department of Justice and FISC court, 3) implemented and overseen by the Executive branch of the government. NSA is batting 3 for 3 when it comes to separation of powers. Are you ignorant to those three points or do you just refuse to acknowledge the balance of power?

Brainwashed masses (0)

Papaspud (2562773) | about 9 months ago | (#45862995)

Just goes to show how effective the propaganda we are fed from birth is. We can't change the values that we were taught as right or wrong, and the government has programmed us to be little cheerleaders from cradle to grave. At least when a private corp screws us we have SOME legal recourse, when the government decides to fuck you, might as well bend over- unless you are very rich.
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