Jay Little - Software Obsessionist
The Day Facebook and American Cloud Computing Died

10/28/2015 4:46:03 AM

The day has finally come. Today I have been forced to disolve my relationship with Facebook. Why? In a single word: CISA. In a nutshell CISA is a piece of legislation that allows companies like Facebook to more freely share customer data with the government. All data shared with the government (DHS) under the auspices of this law is automatically shared with the FBI and the NSA. Even more importantly, customers have no recourse against this data sharing as the corporations in question will be immune to lawsuits which touch upon activities covered by it and the process itself is specifically exempted from the Freedom of Information Act.

What does that have to do with Facebook? Well beyond the fact that Facebook can make use of these loopholes once it becomes law (which is an eventuality at this point as similar versions of the bill have now passed the House and the Senate and the White House supports it in principle), Facebook has been privately lobbying for this bill to be passed while publicly remaining quiet about it . This makes sense when you consider that the government's first attempt to pass this same bill a few years ago was met with stiff public opposition on the internet and eventually was scrapped as a result.

As a result of this revelation and today's passage in the Senate, I will be moving my social media presence exclusively to Twitter. Now let me preempt the catcalls by explaining this move in greater detail. To put it simply, the information I put on Twitter is for the public and it has always been that way. This expectation hasn't ever changed. Whereas in the case of Facebook it used to be a place where there was a clear boundary between the data you shared to the general public and the data you shared amongst your circle of friends. Over the years that distinction has been eroded to the point where every few months you've got to go back and scour your privacy settings after Facebook "updates" and wipes out whatever settings you had set prior to that point.

This is essentially a bait and switch tactic and I have remained complacent about it for far too long. Facebook's support of CISA is the straw that has broken the camel's back. It is unforgivable and cannot be ignored. While the rest of the country rages against conspiracy theories regarding their second amendment rights and the imminent scaling back of those rights, the reality is that ever since 9/11 our fourth amendment rights have not only been assaulted, but substantially reduced. Between the Patriot Act, CISA and the numerous ongoing violation of my fourth amendment rights being perpetrated by the NSA each and every day, the days in which I can foolishly and implicitly trust the US Government are long since over.

The real problem here is that this law arguably represents the beginning of the end of American based Cloud Computing as educated customers can now safely assume that any data they share with American based Cloud Providers is also being shared with the US Government. As an employee of a cloud based services provider I find this to be exceptionally disturbing. As a potential customer choosing between multiple cloud providers, being an American company was already a black mark in my eyes. After this, being an American company is akin to being a kiss of death.

Keep in mind that despite claims to the contrary, this law won't do anything to bolster the security of our information. The primary reason is the most obvious one: This is a reactive law, not a proactive law. It basically allows the government to easily acquire a copy of any and all information stolen after it has already been stolen. How does this information help the government to keep us safe from the bogeyman? It doesn't really. It's just a convenient way for them to exploit the situation and gain access to information that they may or may not have had access to before. The reason the government supports these kinds of laws is simple: They have prioritized getting access to information over protecting information from being accessed by unauthorized parties. This is why the government overtly pushes for backdoors to encryption. Such tactics weaken the security of all affected parties and make them easier targets for everybody: Including the government.

Back on topic: To be fair, Twitter is American based, but as I pointed out before: When I tweet something it is meant for the world at large. There were never and are no current expectations of privacy for that information and I'm good with that. The situation with Facebook is different: It was supposed to be about connecting with and communicating with your friends. However based on the story told by their actions over the last few years, there is no legitimate expectation for privacy at Facebook now.

Goodbye Facebook. I'd say it was nice knowing you but the fact is that you were probably more trouble than you were worth. Anybody interested in following me and communicating with me can either email me, subscribe to the RSS feed for this site or just follow me on twitter @BigJayLittle.

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