Episode #55

When the FBI Knocks: A Techie’s Moment of Truth

Do we need a Hippocratic Oath for technologists?

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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The recent revelation that companies like Google and Facebook routinely hand over data about users' digital communications to the National Security Agency has many Americans wondering whether everything they do online is being tracked by the government. 

This week on New Tech City, host Manoush Zomorodi and producer Alex Goldmark explore what happened when Lavabit and Calyx — two companies that took a stand for privacy — were visited by the FBI.

"There was a real serious knock at the door and when I opened the door, there was an agent straight out of central casting with a trench coat," says Nicholas Merrill of Calyx. 

The experience of Merrill and Ladar Levison of Lavabit raise questions of when technologists should hand over data to the government and what a "Hippocratic Oath" for technologists might look like. 

To hear the full story, click on the audio player. 

Hosted by:

Manoush Zomorodi

Airbnb Moves to Block AG's Subpoena

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Comments [1]

QUIZ: Nuclear War? Are These Real Terms of Service

Every time you sign up for a new online service, you face a choice:  do you click "accept" at the bottom of a long scroll of dense legalese that is the company's terms of service. We decided to whip out the old magnifying glass to get a better look at the fine print and bring you some of the more unexpected gems buried in real terms of service agreements. Can you guess which ones are real? 

Comments [2]

Comments [1]

Rafael from Warsaw, Poland (Europe ;) )


sorry for leaving a fake email but I did not feel like reading the privacy policy and terms of use :)

One thing that struck me in what the quoted NSA representative said was that he never said in what framework the intelligence/government workers are vigilant at protecting your privacy (I'm not a US citizen so they probably don't give a s... about mine). No word about it being some general ethical framework or only the law of the United States and that looks like too big a loophole to put one's trust in, for me at least.

Eventually it all seems to go in the direction, that the people with money are lobbying for such law that they have more control. The irony is that we the consumers are giving them that money that is used to control us.

It looks like the only control we consumers have is to vote with our money which companies we support.

Maybe a good way to fight any "big brother" is to support their smaller competitors despite the possibly higher prices paid for goods or services.

What could also help is to make the leaders of states and corporations realize that they are only untouchable until someone gets angry enough to want to hurt them. They have the power to stop feeding the anger that at some point would ignite a revolution to get rid of them. I think Bill Gates has chosen a good direction in this regard with his charity and sponsoring of solutions to global problems. I hope others will follow so that all can be content with their lives and coexist peacefully no matter their social or financial status. After all what's the use of being rich and powerful if you live in a luxurious ghetto surrounded by slums. To keep the smell out you'd have to lock yourself up x)

Sorry if I got too offtopic but in the end I am thinking about who would be abusing all that data collected on us, when all legal restraints get removed for "ease of service providing" or "national security". In the long run it is not in the interest of the powerful and rich to create a world not worth living in. I have no high hopes of such awareness spreading though.

Thank you for your show. I'm happy to have stumbled upon it from the EFF homepage =]

Good night and Good luck! (come to think of that movie, the McCarthy period may contain clues on how to get out of the current privacy and freedom of speech dilemma?)

Mar. 07 2015 07:41 PM

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