Thursday, April 10, 2014

Don't Snoop, Just Ask

Back in March, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg was so upset about NSA mass surveillance that he phoned US President Obama to complain about it. He posted on his Facebook page that a secure internet is a strong internet.

Overlooking for a moment the number of lies the American people have been told concerning the security of the their online profile and data collection through numerous avenues, there is a much simpler method of utilizing all the the activity that is occurring in social media sites, such as Facebook, to the benefit of national defense. 

They could just ask....

Case and point, a story that has appeared on our local scene here in Iowa pertaining to the Cedar Valley Crimestoppers, a group that started using Facebook to gather tips, voluntarily, which has resulted in an increase in arrests. Scrolling through their page reveals things like pictures of people recently arrested, information on cold cases, and surveillance photos of people authorities need help identifying. They boast an impressive 100+ arrests based on tips received through this page. This is in Iowa, mind you.

This approach works, and the information gathered through this site is both pertinent and legally obtained. It's little more then using social media in place of police knocking on every door going "Did you see anything?". It's frequently used in cases where leads have been exhausted and the case has gone cold.

Did anyone at the national level ever try that? Starting a page or some forum for people to submit information pertinent to actual crimes, not just the ever present veiled threat, and have them offer information, you know, voluntarily? Rather then this gross infraction on the people's trust and privacy? Perhaps it's too late for that now, perhaps the hurt and betrayal go too deep that people are now just inherently skeptical of this government and the idea of working with them seems inevitable to back fire upon the well intentioned. This crazy perception that if you try to work with the system your attempt will ultimately fail.

In the words of Mr. Zuckerberg; "The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they're doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst."

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