Call for Surveillance Reform an Attempt to Repair Trust
added: 12.10.2013, by Mike Spinney
Last month, following his experience at the Ponemon RIM Renaissance weekend, HoGo CEO Hiro Kataoka blogged about his view of data collection by commercial and governmental entities. In that post he expressed the need for those data collectors to establish bonds of trust with the public.
Hiro categorized data collectors in three categories:
• Social Networking/Advertising: companies whose business model requires users to barter their personal information in exchange for the delivery of free services or entertainment. Facebook and Google are two well-known examples.
• Product and Service Providers: these organizations compete to sell their wares to the consumer and use the information they collect to better understand the consumer and provide a superior product or service. Companies like Amazon or your financial institution fall into this category.
• Government: while consumers have choices and a measure of control over the way they interact with the first two categories, we are often compelled to provide information to government agencies (think IRS). In some cases, these organizations may work behind the scenes and use their authority to collect information surreptitiously (think NSA).
Over the weekend and under the moniker Reform Government Surveillance, a cadre of eight data collecting tech giants, mostly of the Social Networking/Advertising ilk launched a website, published an open letter to Congress and President Barack Obama, and bought advertising in influential national and Washington, DC media outlets calling for legal reforms affecting data collectors of the Government ilk.
(TIME Magazine notes the conspicuous absence of a number of data collectors, mostly of the Product and Service Provider ilk.)
As the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes, the rhetoric comes as a welcome change to the atmosphere of recrimination that has prevailed ever since the Guardian and Washington Post published their first revelatory articles of widespread government surveillance based on documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
During that time, some of the eight members of Reform Government Surveillance have been criticized for their roles in abetting—whether actively or passively—the government’s efforts, and public backlash has likely played a role in motivating the group’s called-for reforms.
That’s good. It means that the dynamic Hiro described in which “policy makers and industry must step up to create, nurture, and protect trust so that everyone benefits” is starting to play out.
As least we hope it is.