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article imageOp-Ed: Who's ultimately to blame for spying — the NSA or the CEO?

By Craig Boehman     Jul 8, 2013 in Politics
The new colonization paradigm aims to conquer the kingdom of individual privacy. Privacy is a recent phenomenon in human society, and it is the last frontier that even kings and armies have failed to conquer.
But the NSA and telecom giants are staking claims in the vast domain of human relations. This trend towards reigning in individuality for the sake of exploitation and control has had its heralds. Orwell gave us the 'who', the government, “our” government. Aldous Huxley warned us “that we musn't be caught by surprise by our own advancing technology.” Together, the powers of both the corporate world and government have played pivotal roles in destroying individual privacy.
We have at least eight whistleblowers who've faced prosecution under the Obama administration to date, including Edward Snowden. They have revealed to us the kind of secrets the US Government harbors to safeguard not the public and nation, but the officials themselves whose decisions are leading us down the road to an uncertain, dystopian future. The secrets include war crimes committed by US military forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. They also include the massive NSA spy scandal — the story broke by Glenn Greenwald — which has yet to fully unravel.
The obvious targets of rebuke are the NSA and the officials in government who have enabled it. There should also be firings and prosecutions in the corporate world for crimes against the greater global community, however unlikely in our climate of too-big-to-fail diplomacy.
The so-called “neutral” technologies that corporate America possess and make good use of have been implemented against their users in a variety of un-neutral ways, primarily for use in advertising. Telecom giant Verizon was ordered to turn over their customers' data to the NSA. High-profile companies like Microsoft, Google and Facebook, have also been outed for complying with the FISA court orders. One might argue in their defense that they had no choice but to comply with the government, and such an argument shouldn't be dismissed outright given the consequences for noncompliance with a court that is not accountable to any democratic controls. On the other hand, the fact that a hierarchy of metadata collection already existed in for-profit corporate schemes highlights the danger we all face when renegade forces within government draw upon the resources of inexhaustible data farms.
To further muddle the pot is the revolving door between the corporate world and government. Government officials who are seen as being kind towards certain industries often find themselves landing lucrative jobs in the sectors they may have had a hand in regulating. These symbiotic relationships shape a system marked by power-brokering and greed at the cost of democratic representation and fairness. Our entwined, dual-viper system of governance delights in its wealth and its power, but it also fears its citizenry that typically uphold its legitimacy during times of peace and prosperity (and I hasten to add during times of perpetual war and crippling debt, too). The downward trajectory in subscriptions to the “American Dream” over the past four decades has, among other signs of popular rejection of our rulers' legitimacy, no doubt lead to a healthy paranoia among prominent think tanks and the government agencies relying on them for analysis of the American pulse during times of crisis.
Unrepentant spying shouldn't come as a surprise to us. Those with the aims are natural allies to those with the means. Corporations greatly influence government, and vice versa. But we shouldn't distract ourselves with such questions as, who came first? Like the chicken or the egg, they can both be fried.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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