...The data from Google shows a significant growth in internet content collection from its products by the NSA. In the first six months of 2009, the company gave the government data from up to 2,999 customer accounts, a figure that grew to between 12,000 and 12,999 customer accounts by the second half of 2012 before dipping to under 10,000 accounts in the first half of 2013.
But the data does not provide any indication of what accounted for the rise, beyond the growth in popularity of Google email and other internet products.
Similarly, Microsoft revealed that it gave the US government content information on more than 12,000 customer accounts in the second half of 2011, a figure that grew to over 16,000 customer accounts in late 2012 before dropping to more than 15,000 in the first six months of 2013.
Kevin Bankston, the policy director for the Open Technology Institute in Washington, said the amount of information the companies were able to detail about their roles in US surveillance was “far less than what we need for adequate accountability from the government”. ...TheGuardian
This excerpt from the Guardian, this roundup of NSA's intrusions in our internet communications, reveals rolling demands for data, surging here, easing off there. Facebook has seen rapid growth in the government's demands for personal data. Then there's the FBI's squeeze, via "under a type of non-judicial subpoena called a national security letter," on Facebook, Microsoft, and Yahoo.
All of this continues, blessed by "secret court orders" and a bludgeon known as "executive order 12,333." 12,333 is responsible for a secretive increase in executive powers. It was signed by our pal, Ronald Reagan.
The EFF -- Electronic Frontier Foundation -- digs into the history of 12,333. A reminder:
The Administration is also using 12333 to create secret guidelines—without the approval of Congress—for when, why, and how the NSA can use Americans' information outside of the oversight of the FISA Court. One such guideline is called the Supplemental Procedures and Guidelines for Governing Metadata Analysis. It's a boring title, but the procedures supposedly "allow" the NSA to use the metadata collected under Section 215 and Section 702 to create social networks of Americans—and anyone else—for any "foreign intelligence" purpose. The New York Times reports that there are no restrictions on the use of such data. ...EFF
It's not just that this sounds sinister to you and me (after all, whadda we know!), it is sinister, underhanded and an abuse of power -- no matter which "executive" appears to be on our political side. This is government that, in some cases,of which Congress had no knowledge. It had long been a government that the voter didn't vote for and wouldn't have known about had it not been for a brave individual is willing to step away from his allegiance to a government gone bad, to shout the bad news.
It's not a stretch to ask how data mining (and microtargeting) have skewed our elections over the past several decades. Karl Rove has been using the technique for a long time. Both parties have, to a greater or lesser extent and with more or less dexterity, used personal data to affect election results.
... Other privacy advocates say they worry about the dangers of assembling an individualized message from voter data -- a message to that 50-year-old Ford Explorer driver who likes gardening and cares about tort reform, for example. ''The nightmare scenario is that the databases create puppet masters,'' Peter Swire, a privacy expert who worked at the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton administration, told me. ''In the nightmare, every voter will get a tailored message based on detailed information about the voter. The candidate would know what schools the voter went to, any public records that showed they supported some cause, any court case they've been involved in. There might even be several different messages sent by a candidate to the same home -- one for the wife, one for the husband and one for the 23-year-old kid.'' The nightmare vision, Swire added, means that the public debates lack content and the real election happens in the privacy of these mailings. The candidate knows everything about the voter, but the media and the public know nothing about what the candidate really believes. It is, in effect, a nearly perfect perversion of the political process. ...NYT2004