If the FISA Amendments Act, no company could guarantee its customers privacy. That would have a chilling effect on all business, not just individual communication. The American economy cannot function without freedom of speech, the right to free assembly, and the protection from unreasonable search and seizure. That's why American business ought to come together with civil libertarians and demand that the FISA Amendments Act be voted down by the United States Senate.
Many in the corporate world are having a knee jerk reaction to support the Republican proposal to, through the extension of the Protect America Act in the FISA Amendments Act, give telecommunications companies legal immunity from the assistance they have given to the government in conducting massive electronic spying operations against American citizens while those operations were against the law. Their automatic impulse is to support the Republican Party. In this case, however, to do so is directly in contradiction to their economic interests.
Corporations do have a responsibility to the government – to follow the law. Corporations also have responsibilities to their customers, to honor their privacy agreements. If corporations show that their legal agreements with customers no longer have any weight, what basis is there for trust in the marketplace any longer?
It is absolutely to claim that America can only be secure from terrorism when the government is allowed to conduct massive electronic spying operations against American citizens AND businesses without any judicial review or congressional oversight. In fact, America cannot be secure from terrorism when power over communications is so centralized that free and open communication within and between corporations and citizens is limited by self-censorship. A nation of citizens afraid to talk to each other openly is a nation where no one, including the government can know what is going on.
The FISA Amendments Act legislation goes far beyond reasonable reform. It is a threat to the independence of business from government and to the liberty of the individual citizen.
No one can conduct business when they aren’t assured of private communications. If people in business believe that government spies may be eavesdropping upon any of their electronic conversations, innovation, cooperation and sales will grind down until they are excruciatingly slow. Without the ability to secure proprietary information, all the competitive advantages built up over the last 15 years through the development of electronic communication would come to naught.
The FISA Amendments Act would indeed give legal immunity to corporations like AT&T, Google and Yahoo, for cooperating with the federal government in spying against Americans’ private communications. However, that legal immunity is no protection. In fact, such immunity would strip corporations of any legal justification for refusing to cooperate with government electronic spying programs.
If the FISA Amendments Act, no company could guarantee its customers privacy. That would have a chilling effect on all business, not just individual communication.
The American economy cannot function without freedom of speech, the right to free assembly, and the protection from unreasonable search and seizure. That’s why American business ought to come together with civil libertarians and demand that the FISA Amendments Act be voted down by the United States Senate.