There is something very unnerving about the discovery this week of 'Prism', the US Government's ongoing secret collection of big data.
It's particularly surprising from an administration under Obama. And worrying.
The National Security Agency has been collecting personal data on US citizens notably from Verizon (a big telco) getting personal call details. Furthermore, reports also exist that data has been got from Internet platforms Google, Facebook, Apple, Dropbox, AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft. This was reported by The Washington Post.
Although this morning, those companies are denying it quietly, but formal statements are awaited. Never a good sign when you see delays in formal statements because it usually means they need time to craft the language. For example, they may say they're not "participating" in Prism but perhaps comply when asked etc.
And sources in the know, say they are involved. We will see.
And it could spell danger when in the past, these companies have gone to lengths in formal statements about their systems/structures/processes when dealing with Government information requests case-by-case. They've always tried to convey a sense of the enormous lengths they go to in order to protect their customers privacy. If they're involved in Prism, it flies in the face of those statements and could cause SEC problems.
Apple sources today, have said "they've never heard of Prism".
The real issue here through the collection of data, is its use. No doubt the Government will put up arguments about defence needs and home security. They need the data to combat terrorism.
However, in that data will be phone/internet records for example, on Republican politicians and journalists. So if a journalist got a tip-off call on some White House issue, Obama's advisers will now know when and from whom, to whom.
There's never ever been an issue on giving data by ISPs on Terrorism, Crime, Sex offences - never.... and I know because I started one - but only on foot of a Court Order. Go to court, give your reasons and a judge will give you access. No problem.
But the hoovering up ('scuse the pun) of data on everyone is serious, appalling and outrageous in a democracy. It smacks of Nixon and if it's true (which it is in substance) then Obama is going to have real problems a la Watergate. Breaking into offices to get data is one thing, Prism is worse.
However, learn one thing - the US Government is spying on its own citizens.