News About Tech is Being Suppressed Too Much
“The New York Times” recently published an article discussing the role that the government and media play in creating a polarized response to emerging technologies. The article begins by noting that the media, at least, has a particular interest in certain technologies and their potential impact on privacy and free speech. According to the article, Google’s new search engine results initiative will help focus attention on those types of topics where a government’s interests may be stronger. This effort is reminiscent of legislation passed in the U.S. last year that requires social media companies to make information about their products accessible to users.
Government officials have criticized this move as an attempt to limit citizens’ access to information that they may not need. This is certainly true. However, there is a far more sinister side to news about tech that few are talking about and that could pose a far greater threat to citizens than any legislation or law. That threat comes from the opaque world of private surveillance. Although the U.S. government has been aggressive in collecting data on its own citizens, it has been less successful in collecting information on the communications networks of world wide web users.
As detailed by “The New York Times” article, this means that a person who is engaged in normal online browsing may be sending his or her personal data to companies with serious privacy concerns. When a government agency takes possession of a computer network, it often searches for evidence of criminal activity, but the same goes for private tech companies. In fact, many fear that this new mandate could turn the internet into a giant virtual prison. With no exit routes to the outside world, anyone can simply install software that tracks their every activity on the internet.
If this bill becomes law, people who discuss issues of privacy on the web would be in danger of prosecution. This would not only be a chilling piece of news about tech, but it also flies in the face of statements by both the federal government and the White House that they have no intention of spying on Americans. If the news companies were forced to publish something like this, the general public would be greatly affected. Naturally, most news companies would run a huge PR campaign stressing that no one should worry about the new laws because the government was not planning on using it to prosecute anyone.
However, if the new law becomes active and the government starts searching for people who have discussed private matters on the web, anyone’s civil and personal life will be put in danger. It would not matter whether the discussion was playful or serious. The new legislation would force every business on the web to find ways to protect the privacy of their customers. For example, it might require social networking sites to screen every guest who wishes to join. This could prove incredibly problematic for many businesses, but it may actually make it much easier for law enforcement to find someone who they are looking for without much trouble at all.
While it may seem ridiculous that news about tech is being suppressed so much, it is true. There are too many legitimate concerns about technology and society that are not being solved by passing more laws about it. Some of these issues will undoubtedly be solved in the near future and for the better, but for the moment it is best to just be smart about what you say on the Internet. If you are worried about your own safety, or the safety of your family, then you should definitely talk to a legal expert right away. If nothing else, just realize that the government has many legitimate reasons for wanting to keep this information safe.