Services like Twitter, Facebook should be regulated in other countries

With citizens voluntarily sharing data about their lives on US based services like Facebook and Twitter, the data can be used as good leverage by the US government as it presents insights into several aspects of an individual's life.

Off late there's been quite a lot of buzz around RIM giving access to government agencies in other countries access to encrypted communication over their servers, in India RIM decided to allow the government access to Blackberry messenger chats, Nokia has setup servers in India as a jab at RIM. The Indian agencies widened their net to include Skype and Google. Given the developments in the past few months, our reliance and adoption of services like Twitter and Facebook gives both these services unprecedented insight into the citizens of a country.

Facebook has come up with intriguing visualizations based on the data they have, and the ability to leverage this data against a country is as serious a threat. Both Facebook and Twitter have their data stores in the US. It is a fallacy that we own our data despite what the terms and conditions say. Zuckerberg wants to rid the Internet of anonymity and put faces to online identities. His motives are questionable at best, while his argument might be about cowardice and authenticity, his agenda to put a face to everyone who uses his platform so that he can go back to advertisers armed with this data. It has little to do with one being a coward. While he might believe in the coward argument, ridding the world of cowardice is not his end game.

The inadvertent fallout of a US based service putting faces to everyone around the world is what scares me since the US government has better access to this data. The US government is considering a bill allowing them to shut down their Internet, known as the Internet kill switch bill (a modified bill is expected to come back for vote.) The implications of the world relying on these US services and the US government being able kill the Internet or manipulate these services are profound for other countries. The US government allegedly instructed twitter to reschedule a planned maintenance to allow the Iranian protests.

The Indian government recently took to Facebook for citizen input for the next national planning draft and even the police force using the service. We are voluntarily feeding these US servers with information about our countries. It doesn't have to able marked Top Secret and Classified for it to be a leverage against a nation. The EU seems to be taking these concerns seriously given their recent brush with Google but their purview is still restricted to a user's privacy when using the service not control of data being shared by the citizens. India is aware of the issue and has been is looking for ways to work around it.

For what have the Hollywood movies like Enemy of the State have taught us? One world, with Facebook our government and Zuckerberg the ruler? Plot for a movie? I call dibs Sorkin.

To be clear I am not proposing a regulation of citizens and laws that look to curb a citizen's democratic right to freedom of speech but the ability of services like Facebook and Twitter to mine through data and sharing of this data with the US government.