Teresa Ovalle

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U.S. Government Pays Telecommunications Companies For Citizens Private Info

on August 9, 2015

After reading about Snowden, and the LA Times article from this week’s reading, post a brief blog entry about addressing the issue of his return to the U.S. Use what you’ve learned from other modules – privacy, big data, government surveillance, etc. – to help articulate your position.

Your post should be based on action reasoned out using one of the ethical model, not your opinion.

Snowden seems to think that his leaking of secure data is for the common good of the people. And in some cases, it may well be, but for all I care, Snowden can stay in Russia.

The article that concerned me this week was written by Robert Lenzner, titled, “ATT, Version, Spring Are Paid Cash By NSA For Your Private Communications.” I was surprised to learn that these major telecommunications companies – and certainly a host of others – are paid by the U.S. Government to hand over private data.

I’m not certain if I’m more sickened by the fact that the government is paying these companies hefty sums of money or that the companies expect the government to pay them hefty amounts of money for sharing private data of millions of Americans.

If the companies thought handing over data to the government was a good idea and was the right thing to do to protect and help protect this great company, then they would do it for the common good of the people and not charge the government anything. But because they choose to exploit the government – and their customers – for the bottom line, they are unethical in every sense of the word.

I do believe that there is need to survey certain persons in this country – absolutely – but I do not believe that most Americans are in need of such special attention. To find and survey bad influences, and to track them, one could easily justify the common good approach. There is good in stopping bad people from doing bad things. The government can get their kudos, and so can the telecommunications companies, but for the companies to charge a ridiculous amount of money for something they should willingly assist with is beyond reproach.

Another unethical angel to look at is the fact that if the companies are receiving so much money from the government, then why are our cable and cell phone bills so high? Is it to pay for net neutrality? Most likely not. It is simply because they can. There is no common good in that.

The government, of course, cannot make the companies turn over any data, so it appears that they may be stuck paying the costs to get the data they think they need. The government may think the utilitarian approach is suitable for this enormous cost to tax payers. Perhaps the government justifies the expense by telling itself that if they can catch a certain number of bad guys, they are saving lives, thus this tactic of surveillance does more good than harm.

Either way, it was quite eye opening to learn this information. The commoner is expected to use a certain standard or code of ethics, but it seems that big business and government are far more superior in their thinking and don’t believe that ethics are an issue for them. This is a sad state of affairs.