It's long past time for Congress to start passing legislation to protect our privacy. This is no imminent, sci-fi scenario in a Spielberg fantasy. Let us be clear; the future is here, and the danger is current. America must demand -- and get -- laws to protect us.
Megadata is real. We have had in this country for some time an organization tracking data, not just on our fellow citizens, but recording information on free people around the globe, storing, filing, material on literally a billion souls.
And it's not alone. It's not even the biggest player in the game. An even greater amasser of world wide data, a group headquartered on our shores, captures information on people from most of the world. This is not hyperbole. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times has reported seeing an illuminated map in their headquarters, with lights on the places pouring information into their archives. All of Europe and North America is aglow. Japan looks like a Christmas tree; China is coming up like a dining room dimmer switch as the party starts.
These establishments' charge is so vast, far greater than what is reported in the current scandals. They don't stop at our politics; that's kid stuff. They want to know everything about us: what we wear, what we eat, what we use to entertain ourselves, what our houses look like. What we read. What we think. Everything.
And these are not just neutral, passive entities either. They are actively using this information, right now to try and manipulate us. To get us to do things that might not be in our best interests. But most definitely conforms to their interests.
This level of threat must be controlled. Ten years ago would have been better, might have protected us; but at minimum, something must be changed right now.
So let's stop pulling the small fruit off the tree, and start dealing with the real mega giants of megadata. Why isn't Congress holding disclosure hearings, preparing legislation to rein in Google and Facebook, Apple and Microsoft?
Their record dwarfs that of the NSA. Facebook has a billion consumers in their grasp, and lets anyone purchase access. Google may light up the map in its mission command, but it also sells all the little clicks, all the little preferences you put in front of them. It tells everything it knows about you -- and which of us has not used Google for every hobby, every buying whim, every secret interest we have -- to anyone with the money to pay their rates. That could be a corporation, or a government agency, or just a rich individual with enough money and enough interest to place an order; can Michael Bloomberg or Donald Trump find out what you have done on Google? Your information is sold to forces concerned with, not your health, but how they can use this knowledge to get you to act in a certain way, possibly unwisely.
And who's protecting you? We all know the same story: you click on a pair of shoes to find out more, and then for weeks every site you go to includes an ad for Zappos. And you did not ask for this. And don't know how to stop it.
But this is different, the free market advocates who sell out our freedom, all cry. This is just consumers acting in their best interest, providing that data voluntarily.
Grow up. When we buy in a store, we don't expect the storekeeper to sell knowledge of what kind of food we buy or what kinds of drugs we use. But online firms do exactly that.
Everybody loves their new iPhone, iPod, iNextGeneration. But how many people read the Terms of Service? Or think about whether or not every click, on one of their gadgets or on one of Microsoft's ubiquitous programs, gets stored on a mega server, then manipulated to get you to buy a product you may or may not need, that may or may even not be good for you. Your story, your life, is being collected and then reconfigured, to enable silent giants to make money without your conscious decision on the matter.
So why just the NSA? We need new hearings, to make transparent the real gargantuans of this game, what they are doing, how they are doing it to us, and then laws to control them and to protect us. The future is now. Let's get past the feebleness of government agencies to the real titans of megadata.
Finally, a non-social issue the Republicans, our protectors of individual rights, can really get behind with gusto.