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NSA Gives New Meaning to ‘Spyware’

NSA Gives New Meaning to ‘Spyware’

Politics don’t usually appear on this blog because of a variety of differing views at The Kelsey Group (and in most cases it’s not relevant to what we’re writing about). But I must say the National Security Agency has given new meaning to the idea of “spyware.” And the warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens’ online and offline communications raises critical new questions about privacy and what ISPs, telecos, portals and others do and should be doing to afford reasonable privacy protection to private citizens.

As a practical matter, privacy may be all but gone in this country (as anyone who has applied for life or health insurance can readily attest). Nonetheless, privacy remains an important value and people generally continue to be concerned about online security and privacy. Yet they are largely ignorant of whether or how they’re tracked or how their personal data (or e-mail) are stored and/or used by their ISPs and the sites they visit online.

The “transparency” of online communications, Wi-Fi and wireless phone usage make it all the easier for unscrupulous commercial entities (or unscrupulous governments) to track our behaviors and even privately expressed attitudes (and that will only get easier going forward). And in a “free” country that’s all really scary . . . REALLY SCARY.

Privacy (among other important issues) is something none of us should be complacent about. It’s up to those who have strong views on the subject to express them loudly and publicly or risk further erosion the kind of rights and protections we all take for granted.

Greg Sterling is managing editor of The Kelsey Group. He also leads The Kelsey Group’s the Interactive Local Media program, focusing on local search. Greg came to The Kelsey Group from TechTV’s “Working the Web,” the first national television show dedicated to e-business and the Internet.