Target: Larry Page, CEO of Google
Goal: Persuade Google to take a more active role in opposing government invasions of online privacy.
Google is generally considered one of the essential pillars of the internet. It is the largest and most popular search engine, one of the top email hosting websites, and also provides a number of other online services that are used by millions of people every day. Because of this monolithic status, the choices that Google makes as a company have wide-reaching effects on the internet. As an email and online storage website, Google has a lot of direct influence on how people communicate. So far, Google executives have passively opposed government spying and censorship on the internet, but they have not taken any actual steps to fight against it.
The U.S. government has been aggressively invading online privacy all around the world. The National Security Agency (NSA) has demanded “back-door keys” to all of the major email providers, social networking sites, and online storage sites. They have effectively shut down any company that promises complete privacy, such as the former Lavabit, which provided an encrypted email service that made content unreadable to anyone besides the intended recipient. Right now, there is no private online content that cannot be read by U.S. intelligence agencies. This is a threat to freedom of speech, the right to privacy, and democracy as a whole.
Because of Google’s incredible amount of influence on the internet, they have the rare ability to challenge the U.S. government on these invasions of privacy. Currently, due to legal intimidation, Google can’t even tell the public about what content the NSA has accessed or will access. While the U.S. government may have all the legal power, Google has all the influence in the online community, and is also an increasingly important foundation of the U.S. economy. For the cause of personal privacy and transparent democracy, Google needs to officially take a stand against government spying and censorship.
Dear Mr. Page,
The internet has the unprecedented power to equalize the world’s citizens and serve democracy by providing the public with both transparency and privacy. As one of the essential foundations of the modern internet, Google should be helping us to reach its full potential as a service and a tool for all of humankind. Unfortunately, the U.S. government is threatening the egalitarian nature of the internet with spying, censorship, and a new predatory legal framework designed for average citizens. So far, Google has only passively opposed these invasions of privacy.
If we give the U.S. government, or any other government, the authority to seize and search all of our online content, then we have essentially given up our fundamental rights in the internet age. Email and online storage should be at least as private as the regular mail or a safe deposit box. Don’t cave in to legal intimidation; the future of the U.S. economy depends on powerful internet companies like Google, and the policies you choose to endorse have a massive impact on the internet as a whole. Please stand up for the rights of your fellow American citizens and the rights of people all around the world, by actively working to oppose government spying and censorship.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons