Google’s 2013 court activity spurred a flurry of activity around privacy, and what companies and governments should be able to see of your data. The general consensus being “my data is private, gtfo!”. Ahem, excuse me sir/madam, the simple truth is you signed up to these services. With the amount of your data being retained/shared/sold, you didn’t suspect the viewing of your data long ago?
I believe the NSA (or any other country equivalent) and the large corporations such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple really do have genuine intentions for the greater good. Governments are looking to find the small amount of suspicious activity to protect you and the greater population from harm, while the corporations are looking to make our lives simpler and easier. In order to do either, our privacy needs to be breached to a certain degree.
The question is: What are you hiding that you don’t want people to see? And don’t give me that “It’s my right” or “It’s the principle of the matter” crap.
I’ve used Gmail since it was in early Beta. I’ve always known they scan my emails. I’ve also always known Google, Microsoft, and other companies know who I am, what I do, and [probably] what my children’s names are. The same goes for the governments, and they damn well should know that information about me.
You know what, I’m ok with that. And you should be too.
For most of my career, I’ve been a system administrator of some sort. In that position I was exposed to a number of situations whereby I had to check employees privacy. The most notable example would be monitoring of internet usage. However, this was only done when necessary, and to find illegal activity. It was my job. And what information I did see (which was some seriously questionable stuff), I didn’t do anything with it as it was not what the focus was. The same applies to what is happening on a grander scale with PRISM, Gmail, etc.
When working in these types of positions, employees have to sign non-disclosure agreements before they can view any data. The Edward Snowden event is an extremely good case as to how employees can break these agreements they’ve signed. He broke the agreement between him and the US Government trusting that he would not release any information to the public. I can understand why the US government want to charge him. Remember, it was your privacy he had breached.
Now, there is nothing much you can do about your privacy being breached by these big companies. You could just delete everything relating to you on the Internet and go home. But we both know that is highly unlikely to happen.
You have to accept that this is the way it is, and the way of the future.