We recently wrote:
In which we explained that when it comes to our personal data and information, the primary Privacy concern is – government.
The government shouldn’t have any more of it than is absolutely, Constitutionally necessary. And it shouldn’t force private companies to give it up – save for absolutely necessary, Constitutional exceptions.
Then there’s the wild card scenario – when private companies unilaterally give it to government.
We discussed how foundational Facebook personnel – with their access to the Facebook formula – helped enormously to fundamentally transform Senator Obama into President Obama. And as we enter the 2012 election cycle, how their assistance continues still.
Fellow online data monster Google was and still is just as helpful to Obama, Inc.
Google gives you Search, GMail, YouTube, Google+, Google Docs, Google Phone, etc.
You – knowingly, and inadvertently through electronic snooping osmosis – give them gobs and gobs of your personal data.
It’s the price you pay for all their “free” stuff.
And Google loves Barack Obama.
Google’s $814,540 made it the fifth biggest cash contributor to Obama 2008. But it’s given to Obama in oh so many other ways.
The President relies on Google execs for tech and economic advice as his own regulators scrutinize the online-ad behemoth. Is the romance starting to sour?
That’s the same Eric Schmidt who was a member of Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. But the relationship doesn’t end even there.
And then there is Andrew McLaughlin.
A former Googler–he was their head of public policy–he’s been hired by the Obama administration as the White House’s deputy CTO (Chief Technology Officer – he started after the election and left in 2011), invoking the wrath of a House Oversight Committee member in the process.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has written to Google to demand an explanation as to how McLaughlin could have “used his personal email account to engage in official business, including discussions on policy matters under his review with Google.”
McLaughlin was cited for two kinds of actions: using a personal email account for some professional email exchanges and for violating restrictions on contacts with Google, his former employer.
Most notable among the latter were a pair of conversations with the Director of U.S. Public Policy for Google about mobilizing Google’s resources to respond to negative press mentions.
Those breaches, according to a memo by OSTP Director John Holdren, “implicated” the Federal Records Act and the President’s Ethics Pledge signed by McLaughlin upon his employment as an Obama administration point person on innovation and Internet policy, within the White House Office of Technology and Science Policy.
In other words, McLaughlin was using Google resources – Search manipulations? your data? – to help Obama spin away his negative-ness.
Not exactly what you signed up for when you wanted G-Chat, was it?
Google’s move to consolidate your private data across all their platforms – so as to optimize its use – isn’t in and of itself all that disturbing, at least to me.
Their data consolidation – combined with their intimate Obama Administration relationship – is to me disturbing on stilts.
In fact, the examples of Google violating their own motto – “Don’t Be Evil” – are so numerous as to be morbidly laughable.
And now that election season has arrived:
Obama for America has already invested millions of dollars in sophisticated Internet messaging, marketing and fund raising efforts that rely on personal data sometimes offered up voluntarily– like posts on a Facebook page– but sometimes not.
And according to a campaign official and former Obama staffer, the campaign’s Chicago-based headquarters has built a centralized digital database of information about millions of potential Obama voters.
It all means Obama is finding it easier than ever to merge offline data, such as voter files and information purchased from data brokers, with online information to target people with messages that may appeal to their personal tastes. Privacy advocates say it’s just the sort of digital snooping that his new privacy project is supposed to discourage….
“All of the data used to be in different silos. You never had a central place,” said Dan Siroker, a former director of analytics for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and deputy new media director for his presidential transition team who now runs online marketing optimization firm Optimizely.
So Chris Hughes builds Facebook – and then builds MyBarackObama.com.
So Google breaks down their data silos and centralizes – and then Obama follows suit.
Coincidences all, I’m sure.
Government is the privacy problem.
The more of our personal data they get, the less privacy – and freedom – we have.
I’m not at all bothered by private companies gathering my data so as to optimize my online experience.
I’d of course very much like these data stockpiles protected. From hackers – and from the government.
And I certainly don’t want these private companies to unilaterally hand over my data to the Federales.
I signed up for a Facebook page and G-Mail. I didn’t sign up to help Barack Obama get (re)elected.