The big news this week has centered on the National Security Agency’s so-called PRISM program and how the agency has been tapping into communication platforms to collect data—without public disclosure of its practices. It was widely reported earlier in week that the NSA had been collecting phone records from Verizon; yesterday the plot thickened when companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google and other Web giants were tied to the program.
All of the companies that have been tied to PRISM have denied the claims in unison, which could present major problems for them down the road. To be sure, if it is confirmed that the NSA has tapped into the data these companies hold, then each will essentially be labeled as untrustworthy for denying the claims.
It’s a PR nightmare to be cast as a liar, and spinning your way out of it can be extremely difficult, especially the longer you carry on the deception. That is not to say these companies are covering something up, but, if they are, they might soon find themselves in a very unfavorable position. What’s more, they could have deflected the situation by taking ownership.
The NSA was acting in accordance with the Patriot Act; the agency essentially has the ability to access information freely. So anyone who allegedly gave up information is merely complying with the law, which should be considered a formidable defense. Nevertheless, that defense doesn’t make people feel better about their privacy being infringed upon, but it can at least uphold a company’s image and maintain stakeholders’ trust.
There are growing concerns related to Internet privacy. Still, data collection has become an integral strategy for almost every business these days, so it is important for the companies that collect data to exercise transparency about why they need it, how its used, who they share it with and, most important, how its protected.
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Follow Caysey Welton: @CayseyW