Last night I watched this 2-part special on Frontline. Overall, I thought it was a decent presentation on an important topic. I somewhat question one of the premises of part 2, “Privacy Lost”. In that episode, they basically said that since Google uses an automatic system to scan your emails for keywords and then present advertisements to you automatically -without any person ever actually knowing the content of your email- then that opened the door for the government to scan your email without a warrant, because courts wouldn’t be able to make the distinction.
But, to me, this is like saying: because I allow a maintenance man into my apartment to repair something, then I have somehow given permission to the police to enter my apartment at any time and search it from top to to bottom. You should be able to agree by contract to allow someone to have access to something that is private without it meaning that you have granted permission to everyone else in the world to view it. I think you can also grant someone access to something with the understanding that they are to keep knowledge of that thing confidential, absent a warrant or subpoena issued by a court.