The United States has essentially been spying on its enemies and allies alike since, well, long before the Internet. This spying may even pre-date the Monroe Doctrine, and that’s a long time. Unfortunately, the country is not just doing it, but thanks to Edward Snowden, they’ve been caught doing it. Presently, the European summit is being dominated by a conversation on the subject, but even if you look around a bit, Europe has considerably bigger fish to fry, including a failing economy in large parts of the continent.
Google warned us about Internet privacy
When it comes to Internet privacy, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) already warned us. In 2007, Google’s privacy chief Peter Fleischer famously said to The Guardian, “Three quarters of the countries in the world have no privacy regimes at all and among those that do have laws, many of them were largely adopted before the rise of the Internet,” he said. “It’s said that every time you use a credit card, your details are passed through six different countries. We’re talking about this to help set the framework for the Internet of the future.”
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Google has been sharing quite a bit of information
Fleischer shared these concerns years ago in the hopes that the United Nations would step up in a fashion that would make more people trust the Internet while it was still in its infancy. A similar call today might fall on quite a few deaf ears among the growing belief that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been sharing quite a bit of information with the government as part of the NSA’s Prism program.
That doesn’t change the fact that the Internet is far from a private place, and I’m not simply speaking about the personal information that over a billion people voluntarily reveal by choosing to accept Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s terms of service.
Rather than any sort of global mandate that would be far too big and slow in scope, individual countries are now going out of their way to ensure some modicum of privacy themselves.
Countries taking matters into their own hands
Following reports that the NSA has spied on Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, Brazil announced plans to create an undersea fiber-optic cable, which would funnel Internet traffic between South America and Europe. This is not terribly dissimilar to the preferred direct flights to Europe that its citizens pay more for in order to avoid the TSA in Miami.
Germany’s largest telecom provider, Deutsche Telekom, seeks to implement a rerouting plan aimed at avoiding foreign spies. Germany later went even farther, promising to use domestic-only connections to protect the privacy of citizens from the NSA.
The United States essentially dominates control of the Internet, something that will be forced to change given the Snowden revelations.