The argument shouldn't be CAN the government access and store this data, but SHOULD the government access and store this data. We know that state actors like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Pakistan, and of course China routinely hack government servers and access NSA information.
Let's say that China hacks into the massive data files that the CIA, NSA, and FBI are keeping on American citizens. What then?
We learned this week that NSA officials may have breached credit card information. I am of course, like millions of other Americans creeped out about this but I don't really fear some bureaucrat snooping in on my gchat sessions or my pets.com orders. What I fear most is not that the government is interested in my credit card purchases but that a hackers are interested. With that massive amount of data just sitting there for the taking it creates a real problem for the average American.
In an incredible story by the Washington Post's Ezra Klein he outlined an obsessive Chinese government hell-bent on hacking every aspect of Washington DC.
"What the Chinese hackers are looking for is the great myth of Washington, what I call the myth of scheming. You see it all over. If you’ve been watching the series “House of Cards” on Netflix, it’s all about the myth of scheming. Things happen because the Rep. Frank Underwood has planned for them to happen. And when they don’t happen, it’s because someone has counter planned against him."The data in of itself becomes a security concern. The argument now is that we need to collect the data to keep Americans safe from attack, but by collection and warehousing this data we open ourselves up to even more damaging and routine attacks. This warehoused data will need additional protection, additional security, additional attention. The mere collection of the data will require a security apparatus that would require the creation of a whole new department within the government just for the purposes of securing the collected data.
The government will tell you that your data was safe, but then again Google, Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft, and Skype told you that their servers were safe from intrusion as well. In a time and age when one person, Bradley Manning, can expose millions of classified documents Americans should be concerned about the massive collection and storage of important data regarding their personal, financial, and passwords not for privacy sake, but for security reasons. We know that hackers routinely breach security protocols to access information like social security numbers, credit card information, and bank accounts.
A story, with little coverage and now having heightened importance, highlighted the danger of compiling such data.
From USA Today
The attacks began earlier this month when hackers identifying themselves as group-xp, a known Saudi hacking group, claimed on an Israeli sports website to have gained access to 400,000 Israeli credit card accounts. The group called it a "gift to the world for the New Year" designed to "hurt the Zionist pocket."
The story is of course about government limits and privacy, but the story that is largely being untold is the consumer confidence story.