Government pushing for more tools to keep tabs on people

MGN Online
MGN Online

[lin_video src=http://eplayer.clipsyndicate.com/embed/player.js?aspect_ratio=16×9&auto_next=1&auto_start=0&div_id=videoplayer-1371530305&height=510&page_count=5&pf_id=9624&show_title=1&va_id=4100462&width=480&windows=2 service=syndicaster width=480 height=510 div_id=videoplayer-1371530305 type=script]BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – President Obama remains on the defensive about leaked NSA programs that collect cell phone and internet data. Some government leaders are calling for even more surveillance options in the interest of cybersecurity.

At the same time many privacy advocates say a public debate over how much intrusion is too much- is long overdue- as the federal government considers requiring that secret “back doors” be built into all internet technology so that law enforcement can easily gain access to online devices. That’s already a design requirement for phones.

But what happens when the entity combing through information in the name of national security has the ability to put Americans in jail for something else?  Could it be used against Americans who don’t even realize they’ve broken any laws? With 27,000 pages of federal code, former federal prosecutor Doug Jones says that’s definitely possible down the line.

“People are really blissfully ignorant some about so many of the laws that are out there. So many things can happen, you don’t intend it, and there are consequences to everything. I mean the biggest issue right now is how much of privacy are we willing to give up,” said Jones. “The digital age has created a whole new world for privacy issues, for law enforcement issues, and what law enforcement is trying to do, it’s trying to balance the ability to get information that will help them solve a crime that is committed or to prevent a crime that’s about to happen and you balance that and hopefully our government is such with agents and prosecutors who will not abuse that power, that’s going to happen though. I think people have to understand that at the end of the day we’re humans and some of that’s going to have to happen, but it’s a debate that needs to be, not only started, but it needs to be ongoing as more and more advances in technology take place.”

Some defenders of programs like PRISM say the information gathered has been crucial to stopping terrorist attacks and argue that cyberterrorism is one of the biggest threats facing the U.S.

David Powell, Vice-President of Managed and Cloud Services at Teklinks, Inc. says the biggest privacy issue facing most technology consumers is the amount of personal information that they are voluntarily sharing, whether or not they are aware they are sharing it.

“There is massive amounts of data out there and it’s collected every single day so everything you do is located out there. So it’s the old joke that lots of people suggest that you know Amazon knows more about you than your spouse, because you go to the doctor and you’re diagnosed with diabetes, then you go back to your desk and you’re looking for books, you’re googling for books on diabetes before you ever have that conversation you know with you wife or maybe you’re looking for engagement rings or honeymoon locations so all that information is out there and it’s just a matter of kind of putting it all together and they can know everything from what you’re searching for, where you’ve been based on stuff you posted on Facebook, to where you’re thinking about going based on flights you’ve searched for and all that data’s out there. It’s just a matter of putting it all together and tying it to you,” said Powell. “The problem really just comes down to the fact that technologically we’re outstripping our ethics, we’re advancing quicker than our ethics and our laws can keep up with so our technology capabilities just get faster and faster and faster and then our laws and our ethics… you know what is intellectual property? Who owns what? You know if I buy a song, why can’t I share it with somebody else on ITunes or if I buy a book on the kindle why can’t I share it with somebody else? All those kind of laws and issues around that are a challenge and the legislatures and the congress and all those people are lagging behind on- how do we create laws that empower the consumer, protect the consumer, but also protect the content creators on the backside? And there’s a whole slew of different things that we are going to have to consider as we look at that as digital standard and no one buys actual physical things anymore, but then you also have consider the access piece. Because if you’re going to serve a search warrant or have a subpoena what does that mean? Who can grab that data? And if all you’re data’s co mingled out there with all these other hundreds of users, how do we make sure the government’s only getting the data that was subpoenaed and not someone else’s data? So it really is a massive challenge and one that is going to continue to evolve and one that there’s not really a good clear answer for right now.”

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