In President Obama's January 17 address on the NSA and all things supposedly secret he talked about what will be tracked and what won't be tracked. He talked about who is tracking the data and where they will be stored.
A big part of the problem with the data collection programs is who gets access to the data. Outsourcing the data storage is a really bad idea. I trust the government to handle security better than for-profit organizations. The simple reason is -- we own them and have somewhat better control over who can see what. People who work in our military at least take an oath to protect American citizens.
There are some functions of society (even in a capitalist one) that need to be handled by the government exclusively. If you cannot make a fair profit from something without government assistance, then the government should do that job. In addition to national security, other things I would think about putting into a government-only category would be: prisons, health care, and energy sectors. We are already putting a ton of taxpayer cash out in those categories. I cannot understand how a private company is more efficient than the government if the guys who own the taxpayer sponsored company have big ornate houses driving Caddies -- are those our tax dollars at work?
Part of the Snowden fiasco was caused when someone (Snowden) was not properly vetted. He was allowed access to data that he never should have been allowed sniffing access to in 1,000 years. If anything is to be learned is that private companies, like the one Snowden was working, should not be allowed access to sensitive information. They are untrustworthy by definition.
Private companies are in it for the buck. A private company cuts costs on the hiring process -- so they hire people they cannot control just to have a living, breathing body on staff. So it is no surprise they are unable to control miscreant employees who venture off the ranch, because should have never been there in the first place.
In our warped version capitalist society a private company is always for sale. The private company has access to our sensitive information, which is an asset stored on the servers of said private company. That becomes part of the deal when a hostile take-over bid succeeds and the data fall not into another corporate entity, but a corporate entity controlled by a foreign government. I do not care what any "contract" says, if the data are there and a database administrator -- paid by the boss and not the government -- is asked "what is in the file?"; you wanna bet that boss sees the file?
Unlike the American corporate honchos who run our economy, some of these other corporate honchos may have an allegiance to their home country rather than a green flag with a gold dollar sign.
Who says that Xe, the company formerly known as Haliburton, could not be possessed via a hostile take-over engineered by a proxy group headed by, say, North Korea or China or any other country that has figured out that you don't need a gun to take over our country?
I like President Obama and much of the stuff he has done. I do not agree with this particular facet of his policies. That does not mean I want to throw the guy under the bus, unlike many on the left with respect to this issue.
Do I totally trust the NSA? No. But I trust them to guard my data better than Target or Xe or the company that thought Edward Snowden would make a great employee.