Google's new plan to keep closer tabs on people isn't just another exasperating affront to online privacy. As the Supreme Court said last week, this type of business decision also affects our constitutional rights.
Google says it will start monitoring what people say and do across multiple Google products, including Gmail, search, calendar and YouTube. By compiling this personal data, the Internet giant intends to offer more tailored ads and better services, such as using geolocation data from your phone to warn when you might be late for a meeting.
The plans alarmed privacy advocates and consumer groups, already upset about Facebook's relentless push to make personal information more public. They got the immediate attention of Congress and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, both of which have investigated Google's business practices and questioned the company for its handling of data.
Also keeping watch? The Supreme Court, whose nine justices agreed that our laws regarding technology and privacy are obsolete.
Internet companies help define our notion of public and private, the court said. New technology shapes our subjective understanding of what constitutes a "reasonable" expectation of privacy. As citizens lose their expectations of privacy, they also lose a key Fourth Amendment defense against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government...