Privacy roundup: Public wary of tech companies, plus NSA-spying news

What do you know, it’s another privacy-related day.

• A new poll says more than half of Americans are worried that Internet companies are, well, all up in our business. But even as they express concern, they’re not necessarily keeping tabs on how else Google, Facebook, Apple et al are plotting to continue their world domination. Reuters says 51 percent of 4,781 respondents to a poll conducted during a couple of weeks in March said tech companies were “pushing too far and expanding into too many areas of people’s lives.” However, almost a third of those surveyed said they didn’t know that Google and others have or are working on technology that connects products such as cars and appliances to networks.

The results of the survey come as we grow increasingly aware of just how much tech companies (and the NSA and other government agencies) know about us through the information they gather from our online communications and interactions.

“The links between the online world and the offline world are growing tighter. It’s no longer unplugging your laptop and walking away and rejoining the physical world, because the online world is now following you,” said Marc Rotenberg, director of privacy advocacy group EPIC, according to Reuters.

• Speaking of the NSA, the Supreme Court has rejected a petition asking it to decide on the constitutionality of the agency’s collection of phone-call metadata. The National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records was the first revelation to come out of the Edward Snowden leaks. The petition was unusual in that it was submitted directly to the high court, bypassing a federal appeals court. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case likely means Congress will have to take action on addressing the section of the Patriot Act that the government is citing as justification for the broad data collection; as Ars Technica points out, lawmakers and President Obama have plenty of measures and proposals revolving around the issue.

• Oh look, here’s another NSA-related item. We here at SiliconBeat have tried to keep up with all the news that has come out since the NSA spying revelations that began trickling out last year. But the developments are plenty, and those who have more than a passing interest might find a new resource helpful. The ACLU last week introduced a searchable NSA documents database, which the group says it will keep up to date as the documents become public. From its announcement Thursday: “This database will serve as a critical tool with which we will hold our government accountable.”


Illustration from Bay Area News Group archives

Levi Sumagaysay Levi Sumagaysay (4246 Posts)

Levi Sumagaysay is editor of the combined SiliconBeat and Good Morning Silicon Valley. She also helps take care of, the Mercury News tech website. Email: