Tech giants like Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo! have launched a campaign to address the uncontrolled spying activities of agencies like the NSA with an open letter to President Obama and US Congressmen. In doing so, they took political action in favor of democracy and US citizens as well as foreign citizens around the entire world. (This is done at some risk as these companies operate in non-democratic countries like China. Clearly, politicizing a firm operating in places where political activity is suppressed can lead to backlash.)
Frankly, the activities and technologies of these firms, which afford the NSA the opportunity to gather massive amounts of data, share more responsibility than they would like to accept at this point. That said, they are leading the charge in order to serve their broadest interest of confidence building. People need to trust the internet and the services of these companies or they will slowly move toward emerging alternatives.
Furthermore, more needs to be done. There is no balance on the internet when it comes to regulation and freedom, which means the internet is unpoliced and lacks a “constitutional” structure. Any country (community) lacking a strong “constitutional” structure, where freedoms and rights are broadly defined alongside limits for authorities and the structure of governance (law), has been corrupted, has lead to the abuse of residents (users), and ultimately failed, whether that nation was an authoritarian regime or democracy. This is an important history lesson as proper structure is needed to promote stability and growth; the internet lacks structure where it needs it.
Not only must governments be restricted from what they can do to the internet and user data, it must also be given a well defined structure for addressing national interests when it comes to information technology. Just as tech firms must resist the intrusion of government, government must regulate the activities of tech firms. Because the internet is the world web wide, the International Community as a whole has a major role in determining how the internet is governed. Because the internet is largely a power void, which means governments and other power seeking entities are moving to fill that void, the tech world can best serve its interests, including the need to restrain the NSA and address criminal activities, by working to empower organizations like the United Nations in addition to powerful governments like the US.
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