Coppers want Telecom/Internet firms to hand over all your info

Internet companies such as Google, Twitter and Facebook are increasingly co-opted for surveillance work as the information they gather proves irresistible to law enforcement agencies…

Although such companies try to keep their users’ information private, their business models depend on exploiting it to sell targeted advertising, and when governments demand they hand it over, they have little choice but to comply…

But the vast amount of personal information that companies like Google collect to run their businesses has become simply too valuable for police and governments to ignore, delegates to the Internet Governance Forum in Nairobi said.

“When the possibility exists for information to be obtained that wasn’t possible before, it’s entirely understandable that law enforcement is interested,” Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf told Reuters in an interview. “Then the issue would be, what’s the right policy? And that, of course, engenders a lot of debate,” said Cerf…

Demands from governments for Internet companies to hand over user information have become routine, according to online privacy researcher and activist Christopher Soghoian, who makes extensive use of freedom-of-information requests in his work.

Every decent-sized U.S. telecom and Internet company has a team that does nothing but respond to requests for information,” Soghoian told Reuters…

Soghoian estimates that U.S. Internet and telecoms companies may receive about 300,000 such requests in connection with law enforcement each year…

“Now, one police officer from the comfort of their desk can track 20, 30, 50 people all through Web interfaces provided by mobile companies and cloud computing companies,” he said.

I realize some of my regular readers are already paranoid about what companies like Google and Facebook are doing with the information they gather about users. Anonymized or not.

Now, it’s becoming more and more clear that the cost to governments of tracking your every movement and thought – is a bargain at any price.

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