Opinion

Focus on the bigger picture of online privacy

One of our peers has asked, “Where are the college students protesting NSA surveillance?” with regards to the recent divulgence about the National Security Agency surveillance program known as PRISM.

I saw this question raised in an opinion piece published  online in USA Today College, admittedly bringing up an interesting point. But government surveillance is no new issue.

Back when telegraphs were the main means of communication, the government had access to telegraph records early on. During the Civil War, President Lincoln granted his Secretary of War total control of telegraph lines and had them rerouted through his office.

More importantly, the PRISM program is only part of a larger discussion about Internet communications. Nowadays, we all have many Facebook friends who constantly post status updates, upload new photos and like pages as if there’s no tomorrow. With just a glance, one can discern where they live, how old they are, what their hobbies are, when they have an exam and more.

In essence, people have been volunteering to share this private information for a decade. So why is there this backlash against the government now, when some of these same people have been freely offering up their personal information all along?

In the age of social media, there will always be an online footprint that you leave behind. Checking out your Google ad preferences profile is eerie, to say the least. Google can infer your demographics from web searches and history in order to show you relevant ads based on your gender, age, languages spoken and interests.

Furthermore, for those who use Gmail, how do you think you are able to access your email remotely from any computer? Your inbox, saved messages and drafts are all stored on Google servers. So no matter what the NSA is doing, your and millions of others’ apparently personal emails are still being kept on distant servers owned by Google. Why should there be disparities in trust between a private enterprise and the government? Both have access to our “private” information.

By all means, surveillance is a convoluted issue — one that can be seen from multiple viewpoints. However, in the midst of all the debate on whether the government is overstepping its bounds, one must not forget the bigger picture. In a time when Google and Facebook can track and collect information on the activity of their users, the issue of online privacy is also applicable to these Internet enterprises, if it is to the government.

 

Raymond La is a junior majoring in microbiology.

 
August 28, 2013

Reporters

Raymond La


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Shakey Rodriguez, the Miami high school basketball coaching legend, vividly remembers the first time ...

It was a good day for the Miami Hurricanes basketball team. They moved up to No. 6 in the AP Top 25 ...

Erykah Davenport and Shaneese Bailey made key plays back-to-back late in the game and four players s ...

1. MARLINS: Jeter's Fish trade Gordon. Stanton next?: While others spend -- like the Angels to ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Thursday: ▪ With the first ever early signing period just two we ...

Retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez gives "Major League" advice to UM’s fall graduating c ...

Becoming the Man of the Hour ...

Always a little bit of a flair for the dramatic. ...

A scholarship created by retired Major League Baseball star Alex Rodriguez and born out of his love ...

New Multi-State Institute Focuses on Reducing Damage from Severe Storms ...

Eighteen Hurricane student-athletes graduated from four schools and colleges at the University of Mi ...

Miami director of track and field/cross country Amy Deem's incredible career earned her a place ...

Check out the latest edition of Hurricane Magazine. ...

Members from the Miami track and field team spent the afternoon at the Boys and Girls Club in Miami ...

UM administrators, coaches and alums took part in yesterday's allCanes Holiday Shopping Spree f ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.