The comments to my last post on this showed me that I didn't make my point clearly enough. Some people pointed out that we can opt out of Google, but not out of NSA spying. There was one ardent defense of corporations being allowed to collect our data, from someone who said that he fears the government more than the corporations. Many of the comments presumed that this is about whether NSA has the power to compel the companies to hand over data.
I don't dispute the factual component of any of those arguments, but they miss the real danger in this whole picture. So here's a different take...
1. For members of this Board, who have been so passionate about the evils of Citizens United and the corporate purchase of all three branches of government, it should not take a leap in logic to understand the dangers of massive, concentrated corporate hoarding of our personal data. We have been lulled by the fact that the Silicon Valley companies were big supporters of "our side" in the last election. Poppycock. They have one agenda: selling our data. It isn't just about getting us to buy stuff. It's also about selling the data back to the political parties so they can lie more effectively to get our votes. (Just because "our side" won the last round, don't be so shortsighted as to think the other side will never turn the tables.) In either case, the idea of free elections becomes more and more a joke. Oh, and yes, it is also about transforming people from citizens into consumers (a process which is already frighteningly far along). That is not separate from the political angle. Mindless consumption is a big reason Americans have become so politically disengaged and malleable. Remember "Go shopping"?
2. More important: Anyone who thinks the right laws will stop government agencies from snooping our data is naive. NSA could shut down tomorrow, and something else will take its place. Something worse, most likely. It's like leaving food around and not expecting cockroaches to show up. Fighting the cockroaches by trying to stomp on them is futile and pointless. The only solution is to stop leaving food around.
I don't use Google, and my Facebook page is just a warning about data privacy. But most people are unwilling to go that far. Few bother to learn even the basic steps to protect their privacy on line, partly because the IT companies deliberately make it hard. The real solution would be to pass laws (like those being considered in Europe) to block the companies from vacuuming up our data without our permission. Or to make them pay for it. Start with basic "opt in" as the default policy. NSA would have a lot less to look at. Less food, less roaches. Pretty simple.
We mandated airbags in cars, despite complaints about the "nanny state". We can pass real privacy laws in the US. And for them to have any chance of working, those laws have to start with the companies, not with NSA.