Are U.S. Tech Companies Just as Guilty as the NSA?

Spy

Technology companies like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), and others have speaking with increasing volume regarding government invasion into their users’ data. Last week, executives from major tech companies met with President Barack Obama to discuss the need to put a cap on government spying by National Security Agency and the problems this data invasion could bring in the future.

Following the meeting, the White House released a series of recommended actions from its review board in a 200-page report. Still, critics are saying that company complaints about data privacy invasion are disingenuous, considering how the companies themselves put the data to use by gathering user information to better target ads.

“They’re the biggest bunch of hypocrites on the planet. It’s a brilliant PR move on their part that they’ve been able to shift the focus away from themselves and point to the government as creating a privacy problem,”Center for Digital Democracy Executive Director Jeffrey Chester told Bloomberg. It’s perhaps for that reason that the collective corporate letter from companies to the U.S. government was open and easily accessible.

The undersigned companies [Apple, Google, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), Yahoo, AOL (NYSE:AOL), Facebook, and LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD)] believe that it is time for the world’s governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information,” the letter reads.

James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies believes that the concerns may be driven by self interest but are still genuine. “They see real risk to their market share. You’ve got German, Chinese, even Russian companies saying ‘Hey, buy from us, that way you won’t be at risk.’ It’s crazy. That’s what this has become — an opportunity for commercial advantage as well as an uproar over privacy,” Lewis told Bloomberg.

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