Former Top NSA Official Says Tech Firms Should Be More Transparent About Data Collection

from the well,-yes,-but... dept

Chris Inglis, who had been deputy director of the NSA until recently (and one of the key people who was out there responding to questions about Snowden) is now officially in his (long planned) retirement (though, he's expected to pop back up shortly in the private sector). And as a first order of business, he's apparently imparting some of the "wisdom" he learned over the last few months, by telling tech companies they need to be more transparent about the data they collect:
"There's an enormous amount of data held in the private sector," Mr. Inglis said, in his first published interview since leaving government. "There might be some concerns not just on the part of the American public, but the international public."

[....] "These companies at least have a public relations issue, if not a moral obligation, to really make sure you understand that this is to your benefit," Mr. Inglis said. "As an individual, myself, I continue to be surprised by the kinds of insights companies have about me."
Now, first off, he's right. Companies collecting tons of data on their users should absolutely be a hell of a lot more transparent about what they're collecting (and should give more controls allowing people to opt-out of certain collections). However, it seems quite rich to hear that coming from someone at the NSA, perhaps the least transparent organization ever -- and one that worked hard to make sure that the tech industry was completely barred from being transparent about what sorts of data the NSA gets from them.

To try to spin that as an issue for the tech companies is just silly. As plenty of people have pointed out over and over again, your use of a tech company's services is voluntary. You can avoid it if you don't like it. And, yes, while more information and user controls would be helpful, in the few instances where there have been data leaks, or when it has become clear what kinds of info companies collect, most people have actually been totally fine with it. That's quite different from the NSA. With a company, people may be trading information for a service which they value -- and they're making the choice that the tradeoffs are worth it. That's not true with the NSA. It's not by choice and there's no tradeoff.

No matter what, the idea that Chris Inglis is suddenly the spokesperson for transparency is simply ridiculous.
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Filed Under: chris inglis, data, nsa, transparency


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2014 @ 10:28am

    What he wants is for the NSA to know what data they can ask for from the companies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 7 Mar 2014 @ 10:37am

    Makes sense

    I think he just means they should go back to not encrypting internal traffic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 7 Mar 2014 @ 11:04am

    Pot, Kettle? Or Goose, Gander?

    Now isn't that the pot calling the kettle non-transparent?

    Or maybe, it's if the Goose should have to be transparent about data collection because of Snowden, then the Gander should have to be more transparent also.

    But them, there are the words about those who live in glass houses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2014 @ 11:34am

    so only the Tech Industry, eh? you dont think a couple of others ought to be included on the list then??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2014 @ 12:49pm

    the Irony, it hurts...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 7 Mar 2014 @ 12:59pm

    Zero credibility

    At this point, nobody in the NSA currently or previously has any credibility or moral authority whatsoever to comment on the security or data collection practices of anybody else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    weneedhelp (profile), 7 Mar 2014 @ 2:03pm

    Former Top NSA Official Says Tech Firms Should Be More Transparent About Data Collection

    Tech Companies to NSA:
    "You first."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2014 @ 2:14pm

    actually, now that I think of it, I suspect they want the tech industry to be transparent to get an idea what else the industry collects that they can force them to provide to the NSA

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    the IT Skeptic, 7 Mar 2014 @ 3:30pm

    much the same

    I'm all for the lid being blown off the NSA. They've clearly had it their own way for too long thanks to the internet and gone way too far.

    And this latest pronouncement is clearly a threat to Google and Microsoft to tow the line or have their own practices "Snowdened".

    But don't be saying it's different for the tech companies.
    Like I have a choice if I now decide I don't like Google's practices.
    And maybe most people would be totally cool with having a WELL BEHAVED NSA as a tradeoff for not being blown to smithereens on their next flight.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daemon_ZOGG, 7 Mar 2014 @ 6:41pm

    "telling tech companies they need to be more transparent about the data they collect"

    NSA translation: Do as I say. Not as I do.
    FISA translation: For national insecurity reasons, we cannot confirm nor deny the existence of our secret kangaroo court.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2014 @ 11:56am

    Yep, NSA should be more transparent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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