Gutless or corrupt? Do I have to pick just one?

What if Marissa Mayer went to jail?

"Companies typically do not yield to government interference unless they feel there is something to their advantage. Does anyone really believe that NSA would arrest FaceBook's CEO if it did not comply with a random, illegal order? Please." [...] Companies could stand up to these NSA orders and most likely beat them if they chose to.

Either these companies are, as Claude suggests, getting more from the NSA than we are presently aware of, or maybe each CEO is just hoping someone else will be the one to stand up to the bully. I prefer to think it is the latter case. And since I know a lot of CEOs and the way they tend to think, I'd put money on that being the situation.

The CEOs and their companies, then, are ether gutless or corrupt. Charming.

The NSA orders are illegal, it's not treason to reject them, and even if it were technically treason there is still a right to both due process and -- in 21st century corporate America -- to spend whatever it takes to beat the rap.


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13 Responses:

  1. Can we really believe that companies can stand up to the NSA and beat the NSA?

    Does everybody forget Qwest and what happened to the Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio?

    Maybe the CEOs of Facebook/Yahoo/etc. could get away with it. Maybe not. I can't blame them for not wanting to try.

    • Joe Shelby says:

      interesting that this came out the same day as an editorial about how the NSA basically has "everything" to the point that they are immune from Congressional oversight: any Congress person that dares challenge the program will find embarrassing details about their own phone calls, texts, and internet traffic posted "anonymously" as much as any other leak, potentially ending their career (unless your name is Sanford, I guess).

      If you don't think the NSA and friends have files on the CEOs of all these companies, filling up with day after day of call after call? How hard would it be to pick a name at random, connect them to an insider trading case, and then connect a CEO to that name. They probably already have those connections ready to go...

    • Joe Shelby says:

      ah, I hadn't actually heard the whole story on Nacchio, but yeah, it fits that pattern almost perfectly...

  2. Mike Shaver says:

    We should have held out on the rba subpoena.

  3. gryazi says:

    What's the business case for sticking their necks out? Everyone is doing it and the institutional investors (now codependent with government re: favors-owed for being too big to fail) will cry murder wasting money tilting at windmills.

    [The fruit-themed company that might be at minimal financial risk just received a combination of tax-evasion coal raking and a convenient 'go ahead and ignore that WTO decision' domestically, while seeming least likely to give a shit anyway.]

    Assuming these people only have guts for making money, when 'keeping us safe' seems to win in the market every time, how do you make a financial argument in favor of privacy (when the slim minority of paranoid customers who even care assume you can't be trusted anyway)? I don't like it but business only listens to money.

  4. anonymous coward says:

    Unless and until you have worked in a facility that handles classified material you have no idea of the fear and intimidation that you are put under all the time. Rather like working in a rad lab, it's something you learn to live with when you do it daily, but you never get comfortable with it. For CEO Mayer (and her counsel and advisors) they only get intimidated by it once in awhile so the fear factor is much higher. For them, every single classified request they get feels like it's intensely radioactive. And they get them from the FBI, who are particularly skilled and practiced at communicating that threat.

    Judging by her words and her demeanor I wonder if she has the whole picture of the classified material world, but the void of what she doesn't know is more fearsome for her than what she does know. (And I assume that the CEO Nacchio story is front and center in everybody's minds at that C level.)

    The "business case for sticking their necks out" is that it's really easy to convict somebody of leaking classified information - especially this kind - and it's a serious crime. There are teams of federal prosecutors who will go after anybody that crosses that line. Everybody is NOT doing it. In fact only one person one time has ever gotten permission to say he got a National Security Letter. Apple's (Google's, Microsoft's, et al) tax evasion is not the same as revealing an NSL, it's not even in the same galaxy.

    • gryazi says:

      I probably should've left in my initial thesis that unfortunately (and on top of everything else) "keeping us safe" clearly sells in the political environment and... why take surprise scrutiny later when you can take 'cooperative' scrutiny today and maybe lower the odds of having an entire datacenter seized for an emergency investigation? Downtime is the kind of money these people do care about.

      Worrying about accidentally becoming the next MegaUpload is a lot of disincentive before you even get into the 'personal neckspace.'

      Actually replying because what the fuck is up with the completely unnecessary use of the the Internet Argument turn-the-argument-backwards manouver ("The 'business case for sticking their necks out' is [death]) here? The thesis already was that, dude.

    • gryazi says:

      Oh, I see it now, misread of "it" as protesting rather than rolling over. Which explains why none of that had much to do with anything I said except for being in response to the article.

    • anonymoose says:

      For many years, I worked in a facility that handles classified material. I encountered no fear or intimidation. Just like working in a hasmat lab, there were clear and easy-to-follow materials handling procedures that we pretty much followed to the letter pretty much all of the time.

  5. anonymous coward says:

    PS: If jwz is running his own server for this site he could get an NSL that forces him to roll over any of the posters here and he could say nothing about it. Imagine how much more web traffic Yahoo (Google, et al) gets than

    • phuzz says:

      It's my understanding that if you receive an NSL, you're not allowed to say so, but you're not allowed to lie and say you haven't, you just have to refuse to comment.
      So, if our gracious host has not received an NSL, he can tell us. If he says nothing we could assume that he has received one.

  6. deathdrone says:

    Referring to an "NSA order" as "illegal" is pretty misleading. Going along with the NSA is safe and profitable on every single level.

    I mean, unless you happen to be on the stand at a war crimes tribunal, heh. But that's generally considered a remote possibility.

    Law isn't some thing that exists up in the clouds. How could it, when the letter of the law is so utterly contradictory? Law is defined by what you can get away with. The NSA has the world by the balls, so they define the law.

    • gryazi says:

      "Unconstitutional" is technically illegal but there's a reason we have another word for it.

      Law might be what you can get away with if you get away with it, but if it enters 'the system' it's what 'the system' spits out the other end, which is a series of messy human obligations, many of which just have to do with putting the reasoning in text and filing it away somewhere.

      Guys like Yoo are the latest in a long line to have poisoned that well, obviously, although that was just 'doing his duty' of securing the most favorable outcome 'the system' permitted for his client. Ugh.