June 10, 2013 by Tamara Piety
There is a great article in Advertising Age about the effect the recent revelations about the government’s data mining efforts have churned up. It is an important debate (although you DO wonder where all these elected officials who are posturing over this now were when the PATRIOT Act was passed — oh wait! That’s right! Most of them voted for it – although they are now “Shocked, shocked to discover data mining was going on”….). However, the most important part of this article is this observation:
“But the reason government has access to so much data in the first place, in many cases, is because corporations collect it.”
Yes indeed. And since we cannot rely on those who collect it not to turn it over to the government, sometimes without even waiting for an appropriate subpoena, I think data mining by private companies is just as problematic – maybe more so — than that by the government. After all, if the government really was able to prevent terrorist attacks through this method there might be some benefit that at least some people would be willing to trade off some privacy for. Unfortunately, it isn’t clear this is the case and even if it were, most of us worry that it is difficult to trust any entity with this much power.