Companies working with the NSA could get blanket immunity

National Security Agency HQ

The common American might be at a much more vulnerable spot now that Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, asked lawmakers for more authority in order to offer liability immunity to companies working closely with the National Security Agency in digital defense programs.

The change in law would allow for mistakes to go unaccounted for in case a company hits the wrong target while attempting to block the home base of a suspicious or seemingly threatening source. While this change in the law seems harmless to some, it could offer protection to companies that act on behalf of the agency, and leave innocent consumers without any access to legal recourse.

Congress was left with the duty of rethinking how private companies are held liable. According to POLITICO, a White House official assured that the Obama administration would be willing to accept a change in the law in order to maintain a company protected while participating in defensive countermeasures online. The source remained anonymous.

While many companies still fight to protect their reputation after news regarding the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs broke, the increased immunity would strip a firm’s only incentive to resist government pressure: its good name.

While certain companies still take their consumers’ privacy into consideration, some fear losing their strong presence in the market, which is why they might be welcoming to the change in the law. Some companies may see this as an opportunity to have their assets protected by avoiding being hit with lawsuits over possible target errors.

According to a former White House aide, the head of the NSA has been urging Congress to adopt “ill-defined” language that would allow for the Pentagon to obtain more intelligence from its special relationship with Internet providers.

While most lawmakers maintain that there must be a widened exchange in intelligence between private companies and the public sector, civil libertarians, and a smaller group of congressmen and senators find the push for more intrusion into Americans’ private lives unprincipled, to say the least. In light of recent revelations concerning the NSA secret surveillance program, accepting this change is the wrong direction for congress to take.

If this trend continues, expect a significant increase in the number of programs run by the NSA that violate your rights to privacy.

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