Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has garnered many kudos for his decision to not knuckle under to the blackmail attempts by the sleazy tabloid National Enquirer. But Glenn Greenwald writes that while ths action was commendable, it should not blind us to the fact that Amazon’s business practices are truly horrendous and that that company is one of the biggest violators of other people’ privacy and works hand in glove with the NSA, FBI, CIA, and other government spy agencies to develop ever more comprehensive surveillance tools.
Indeed, one of the stories we were able to report using the Snowden documents, one that received less attention that it should have, is an active NSA program to collect the online sex activities, including browsing records of porn site and sex chats, of people regarded by the U.S. Government as radical or radicalizing in order to use their online sex habits to destroy their reputations. This is what and who the NSA, CIA and FBI are and long have been.
JEFF BEZOS IS AS ENTITLED as anyone else to his personal privacy. The threats from the National Enquirer are grotesque. If Bezos’ preemptive self-publishing of his private sex material reduces the unwarranted shame and stigma around adult consensual sexual activities, that will be a societal good.
But Bezos, given how much he works and profits to destroy the privacy of everyone else (to say nothing of the labor abuses of his company), is about the least sympathetic victim imaginable of privacy invasion. In the past, hard-core surveillance cheereladers in Congress such as Dianne Feinstein, Pete Hoekstra, and Jane Harmon became overnight, indignant privacy advocates when they learned that the surveillance state apparatus they long cheered had been turned against them.
Perhaps being a victim of privacy invasion will help Jeff Bezos realize the evils of what his company is enabling. Only time will tell. As of now, one of the world’s greatest privacy invaders just had his privacy invaded. As the ACLU put it: “Amazon is building the tools for authoritarian surveillance that advocates, activists, community leaders, politicians, and experts have repeatedly warned against.”
So while Bezos has been the victim here, let us never forget that he is by no means a good person and that his company’s practices are terrible.