Dec 082011
 
 December 8, 2011  Surveillance

Tatiana Lucas, World Program Director of  Intelligence Support Systems in Virginia, wrote a letter to the editors of the Wall Street Journal that is so simultaneously ludicrous and pathetic that I don’t know whether to spit, laugh, or suggest she take a course on human rights.  Here’s her letter, and I’ll meet you on the other side:

The article “Document Trove Exposes Surveillance Methods” (page one, Nov. 19) will have a negative effect on job creation in the U.S. as attention of this kind makes U.S. manufacturers gun shy about developing, and eventually exporting, anything that can remotely be used to support government surveillance.

Based on our work with customers from around the globe, we expect that most countries outside the U.S. and Western Europe will begin to place intercept mandates on social networks, especially following the Arab Spring. This would give U.S. companies an opportunity to develop such tools and thus create jobs.

We are concerned that the article and others like it contribute to an atmosphere where Congress isn’t likely to pass an updated lawful-interception law. The law would require social-networking companies to deploy special features to support law enforcement. Without the update, the opportunity for U.S. companies to develop and launch intercept products domestically for eventual export will be greatly curtailed.

Additionally, in some countries U.S. companies are already refusing to provide intercept support and are banned from doing business. But Chinese equivalents, with lawful-intercept features, crop up in their absence. Like it or not, many countries will adopt the Chinese model, leaving U.S. companies and job growth behind.

So, to be clear, Ms. Lucas is arguing that we should throw human rights out the window to enable American businesses to make huge profits by supporting unconscionable surveillance of human rights activists. We should not put pressure on American businesses to behave ethically because, well hey, there’s big money to be made, and if American businesses don’t make it, Chinese businesses will. If people are going to be surveyed, tortured, and imprisoned anyway, we should just lie back and allow American businesses to make a profit off it.

Think again, Ms. Lucas.

And then again.

You seem to have an ethical screw that’s seriously loose.

(typo in name corrected – I was so irritated, I didn’t even type her name correctly – and not once, but twice!)

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