Miruna Codeanu

On PRISM: Marketer’s POV

In espresso on June 10, 2013 at 7:02 am

There’s a huge international scandal. Sure, nobody cares about it in Romania, but the international mass media loves the subject. It is juicy, it is fresh and it is something else but same old economic matters that they’ve talking about in the past 5 years. The NSA (National Security Agency) scandal.  Some 29 year old computer technician working leaked details of a program called PRISM through which the american government collects data about users, even outside US borders, via Yahoo, Facebook, Google, AOL, Apple, Microsoft, PalTalk, basically all the big companies in our online world as we know it. They all declined or most of them did.

This is media hype, this is media material, it is tasty, it is juicy, it is a scandal like they used to be, it could even be material for a “gate” scandal. The mass media will continue to feed the population news on the E-gate. Target for this news: mass consumption. It will be mass media at it best, how it used to be. Will it have the same success as it used to? No. It is too general, too wide, it targets the general consumer that is dead. Analysis from different point of views on this matter might be successful but this kind of news, mass media boom targeting everybody, no.

Whether I believe it is true, yes I do. Whether I feel my freedom threatened, no. Whether I think it affects the freedom of speech? For the time being, probably not, but it will sooner rather than later. I do believe because they have the means to. I have always seen the state as a company. Well, probably I can see anything as a company and the company as a living human organism. As long as companies collect information on its users: Google does it and it advertises to you, Yahoo does it, Facebook does it the state can do it and again, ask me, it would be dangerous for companies to hold more information that the state, which will be soon happening: take Apple, it has some information on consumers but it definitely has the money to control the state, by lobbying of course.  As long as Google, Facebook, Yahoo and all the rest collect information on its consumers it is normal for the NSA to do the same. Ask me, I find it absurd to believe that somebody is watching you or reading your emails. There are approximately 2 billion internet users around the world, some of them, fully wired, like I am.  I’m probably completely track able, but it would take another person in order to know what I’m always doing, or maybe 2 people, as I can manage with very small amount of sleep. It is absurd and irrational to believe somewhere on this planet somebody is watching out, because for this, there aren’t enough people. I know and I understand the problem of free speech but whichever way you do it: some company or some state will

However, it seems like the White House panicked and could not keep a cool head. “You can’t have 100 percent security and then have 100 percent privacy — and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society”. Oops. Wrong. People are already concerned over their privacy. What you definitely do not do is to remind them you are basically violating their privacy.  Dear person who writes Obama’s speeches nowadays, people are rarely rational beings and mostly in crisis situations. You cannot appeal to their reason because they loose it when they feel threatened. Sure, you can create a bigger fear.  You do not mention privacy. You mention the state’s duty is to protect its citizens from any possible threats. You could make a comparison: as the states has policemen to physically protect you, the internet needs its guards to protect its citizens as the world we live in is changing, but you cannot admit you are violating people’s privacy.

Lesson to be learned from Facebook and Yahoo’s response for marketing and PR professionals and the White House. Facebook and Yahoo stepped out to deny it. Well done. Most likely untrue but for the average Facebook user it does not matter whether the government knows about its check-ins, instagrams, and requests to play farmville. The White House? A bit of a failure. They basically admitted to the problem, which is a failure. No, people aren’t understanding. Ask me, again the private sector shows it is better than the state.



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