Governments aren’t known for being squeaky-clean moral entities full of people who only want to do the right thing. The nature of power (and of those wanting power) prevents that from being even remotely a possibility. But many politicians are able to at least put up a facade of morality.
Still, what was on display at the recent Congressional hearings about Facebook strains the boundaries of what is believable to even the most ardent Congressional supporters.
In case you haven’t heard about these Congressional hearings, Congress decided to call Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to task over concerns about the privacy of people using Facebook.
Let that sink in for a moment.
That’s right, the very people who passed the Patriot Act (more than once, mind you) and gave the NSA permission and funding to spy on all Americans is upset because a private company which people voluntarily use might not keep people’s information private. As if anyone has to use Facebook. But these same people keep using taxpayers’ money to take this same information for no good purpose.
If you want an idea of the absolute silliness of some of the comments, read what Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) had to say:
If you and other social media companies do not get your act in order, none of us are going to have any privacy anymore. That’s what we’re facing. We’re talking about personally identifiable information that, if not kept by the social media–media companies from theft, a value that we have in America, being our personal privacy—we won’t have it anymore.
Now, I have to ask Senator Nelson what exactly he thinks that the NSA does and why he thinks (beyond any sense of reality) that Americans have any privacy at all in the age of the NSA. Nelson’s words are either a sign of senility or of hypocrisy, neither of which are characteristics which voters tend to look for in Congressmen.
Or take a look at this heart-warming quote from Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA):
The status quo [or privacy protections in the tech industry] no longer works. Moreover, Congress must determine if and how we need to strengthen privacy standards to ensure transparency and understanding for the billions of consumers who utilize these products.
Maybe Americans might find some comfort in Grassley’s words if Congress actually seemed to be showing signs that they are interested in protecting Americans’ privacy from the biggest invader of our privacy: the government.
But, unfortunately, the hypocrisy is not showing any signs of ending. Until then, there really isn’t much good advice to give about how to protect yourself from government spying unless you find a way to live completely off the electronic grid, which, in this day and age, is easier said than done.