While everyone is fretting about the NSA …

A joint ProPublica/NewYorker story highlights the privacy implications of the Patraeus scandal. It seems legislators are suddenly realizing that they too may become subject to the kind of surveillance gone mad that landed the General in hot water.

What was most striking to me was the admission of a truism which has been repeated since at least 1995 when the WWW went mainstream: you do not own your data.

There’s a particularly cruel irony in all of this: If you contact your cell-phone carrier or Internet service provider or a data broker and ask to be provided with the information on you that they provide to the government and other companies, most of them will refuse or make you jump through Defcon levels of hops, skips, and clicks. Uncle Sam or Experian can easily access data that shows where you have been, whom you have called, what you have written, and what you have bought — but you do not have the same privileges.

This is part of your digital identity which you yourself cannot access. That this is so difficult speaks to just how valuable that information is to others and underscores precisely why we should be the only ones to have access to it. No amount of legislative fixes will repair this damage. We have all become enslaved.

Was Petraeus Borked? – ProPublica


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