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We all need the assurance no surveillance and of privacy

Jeff Jarvis is a well-known and respected journalism professor at the City University of New York.

He writes in The Guardian, post the Snowden revelations - still on-going even as late as yesterday - that we citizens need protection from unwarranted surveillance and a right to privacy.    But from and by whom?

"Assuring the security of private communications regardless of platform – email, VOIP, direct message – should be a top priority of the internet industry in the aftermath of Edward Snowden's revelations that US and UK governments are tapping into the net's traffic.

The industry needs to at least come together to offer encryption for private communications as protection against government surveillance.

Guarantee of private communications should be a matter of law already. But, of course, it is not. In the US, only our first-class physical mail is protected from government surveillance without a warrant. In the UK, it was a case of opened mail that led to the closing of the Secret Department of the Post Office. As a matter of principle, the protection afforded our physical mail should extend to any private communication using any means. Just because the authors of the Fourth Amendment could not anticipate the internet and email, let alone Facebook, that should not grant government spies a loophole from the founders' intent.

That protection could come from Congress, but it won't. It could come from the courts, but it hasn't.

I argued in my book Public Parts that government may try to portray itself as the protector of our privacy, but it is instead the most dangerous enemy of privacy, for it can gather our information without our knowledge and consent – that is the lesson of Snowden's leaks – and has the power to use it against us.

So it is left to the internet industry to give us the protection we deserve.

Doing so would not be an act of gallantry but an act of enlightened self-interest for net companies. For without quick and sweeping assurances, I fear the damage is already done to confidence in the cloud, the internet, and especially, American technology companies."


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