USA Today looks at how the revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have affected the public conversation about individuals’ privacy rights:
SEATTLE – Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., asked the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday to formally investigate how online data brokers and marketers track consumers across their computing devices.
This latest development spinning out of the Edward Snowden affair suggests a privacy time bomb may be close to detonating.
Markey reacted to a story in last Saturday’s New York Times examining how the online advertising industry is now able to track consumers across the various platforms and devices they use, often without the user’s knowledge or consent.
That Times’ scoop followed an Oct. 2 report about how the National Security Agency conducted a secret pilot program in 2010 and 2011 to test the collection of bulk data about the location of Americans’ cell phones. That pilot program was never carried out. […]
In a separate — but very much related development on Thursday — data management firm Identity Finder disclosed how the caching mechanism in Google’s popular Chrome browser stores unencrypted personal data in a way that makes it trivial for hackers to steal.
If privacy is the gunpowder in these developments, consumer trust is the fuse. For most of the past dozen years, U.S.consumers have extended Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook, AOL, Verizon and AT&T a high level of trust as the tech giants went about devising infrastructure to collect vast amounts of data on how we use phone and Internet services.