What if Marissa Mayer went to jail?

“Wednesday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer presented her company’s side of fighting the National Security Agency over requests to have a look-see at the data of Yahoo users,” Bob Cringely writes for I, Cringely. “It’s a tough fight, said Mayer, and one that takes place necessarily in private.”

“Mayer was asked why tech companies had not simply decided to tell the public more about what the U.S. surveillance industry was up to,” Cringely writes. “‘Releasing classified information is treason and you are incarcerated,’ she said.”

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (photo by Brigitte Lacombe)
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (photo by Brigitte Lacombe)
“How would that work, exactly? Would black helicopters – silent black helicopters — land at Yahoo Intergalactic HQ and take Marissa Mayer away in chains? Wouldn’t that defeat the whole secrecy thing to see her being dragged, kicking and screaming, out of the building?” Cringely writes. “My inclination, if I were Marissa Mayer, would be to tell the NSA to make my day: ‘Take me to jail, but understand my company will pay whatever it costs to fight this, we will force it into the open, and — by the way — I’m still breast-feeding, so my baby comes too.'”

Cringely writes, “There’s no way Marissa’s baby would spend even an hour in jail, which is exactly why I wish she’d take a public stand on the issue, this nonsense would go away, and we could get back to solving real problems.”

Much more – including a high-powered lawyer’s opinion – in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

United States Constitution, Amendment IV:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Join The Electronic Frontier Foundation in calling for a full congressional investigation here.

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50 Comments

  1. Good article by Cringely. As he says, I suspect tech companies are getting something from the government to keep quiet. In fact, didn’t we find out recently that the NSA is paying companies like MS for all the user information they are “sharing” with the NSA.

    Of course, if a company decided to say FU to NSA, then I suspect the NSA representative would visit the CEO with some tidbits of personal information on the CEO that the CEO would prefer to remain private.

    I hope people are not naive enough to think the government is collecting all our information to keep us safe. Information is power and people in government want all the power they can get.

    1. Exactly. I think they were all willing participants, and now they are posing as victims to fix their public face. If we had something like a rule of law or a justice system both sides of this would be in jail for collusion to violate the constitution.

    2. There is $250 million budget for paid access to some sets of cellphone companies’ data. Verizon, AT&T and others profit from taxpayers money, charging the government. This is besides and in accordance to all the bulk spying NSA does on citizens and their conversations.

    3. Well, Cringley is certainly naive if he really thinks that taking this “out in the open” will make it go away.

      Haven’t seen anything like that happen with the government yet.

    4. “Of course, if a company decided to say FU to NSA, then I suspect the NSA representative would visit the CEO with some tidbits of personal information on the CEO that the CEO would prefer to remain private.”

      Or they might lean on fund managers to dump the company’s shares over an extended period, say September 2012 to December 2012. They might start a PR campaign accusing the company of avoiding paying federal taxes. They might have the DOJ charge that company with anti-trust violations. They might make sure that enforcement of that company’s patents didn’t happen. Yeah, they might do stuff like that.

      1. I agree with Zeke and do not agree with Cringely. The fact is the NSA could make life very, very miserable for any company which did not comply with its orders.

        Plus, let’s not forget that these are legal orders as far as the companies are concerned: The search requests were reviewed by a judge, who then signed the order authorizing the searches. So as far as the order is presented to the company, it is an order from the court to release the information.

        The illegal part is not up to the companies to decide, it’s up to Congress and us as citizens to voice our upset at it and demand it change.

      2. Actually….. Didn’t they already do all of that over the last year to Apple??

        Just saying.

        Ps. Fearing that the world is ending is ok, If the sky is actually falling.

        Just saying.

        1. Yes, that was my point. All of this happened to Apple within the last year. Most of it directly attributable to the federal government. The only indirect action would be the feds leaning on fund managers to sell Apple. It wouldn’t even have to imply force, just “Psssst, I’ll tell you a secret. We’re gonna bust Apple.” If that whisper is coming from a DOJ or IRS official, or any other high ranking fed the fund managers are going to listen.

          I didn’t think I’d have to lay it out for you, Norm, that I think this may have happened to Apple already.

      3. Zeke is exactly right.

        Think about when Jobs was alive, and how Apple’s stock was constantly underperforming.

        When he stopped making day-to-day decisions, and upon his death, the stock started it’s meteoric rise.

        Recently the stock has been getting hammered, as well as Apple Inc. itself, what with US anti-trust rulings over iBook, court cases against Samsung that seem to give much less to Apple than the law & logic dictate, and even the PRC getting into the act with transparently bogus ‘warranty issues’ over Apple’s products.

        It’s clear that the first occurred because Jobs wasn’t cooperating – either at all, or as fully as NSA wanted. Jobs began building up the cash hoard to protect Apple, no matter what happened to the stock, no matter what other areas the government would try to squeeze him from.

        The second – the rise of Apple’s stock – came under Cook’s tenure (both informal and formal). He began cooperating. It was a new era at Apple – Ding Dong the Jobs was dead! – and he and the company were being rewarded for their good behavior.

        Now the third stage is indicating some prevarication on the part of Cook and Apple, but their own behavior also indicates that whatever concerns they have, whatever government initiatives (foreign & domestic) they aren’t cooperating with, they aren’t totally going rouge. Cooks ‘apology’ to the PRC for warranty stuff was a washed, public message to their government, letting them know they were ready to play ball (i.e. no one in China uses an iPhone for anything the government doesn’t know about). And at home, after opening up iCloud & creating those back doors in iDevices in the first place, Apple may be in the shithouse now because they didn’t make their fingerprint sensor technology equally as transparent. Once you get into bed with the Boa, you should have no expectations that he won’t keep squeezing you no matter how often you stroke him.

        Wall Street investment banks are nothing more or less than an arm of the government now. They are like Financial Special Forces – they are given a target, and then do what they do to bring it down. This is what happened to Greece (and by extension all of the EU), and clearly is what worries the CEOs of any company vis a vis whether they cooperate or not with illegal, immoral government actions. And since most CEOs see their only real obligation in life as to their shareholders … you can see where this all begins and ends for most of them.

        Jobs was different. He was the apple picking, LSD dropping, libertarian hippy, who knew how much freedom – in all its guises – had to do with not just his success, but the success of all of us as a nation long-term. He was smart enough to know not to get in bed with the snake. He was savvy enough to know that only money would protect him and Apple from those whose most effective bullet was money, so he accumulated enough of it to armor them for a lifetime or more. And he was humble enough to know that the stakes were bigger than him, his career, or even his freedom/life. That’s ultimately why they couldn’t stop him, why he was so successful.

        And the reason why Apple is having so much trouble now, legally at least & probably even with their stock price, is because Cook is trying to play both sides of the net. At times he’s making decisions he knows the governments in question won’t like, but then he back tracks at others. That’s just weakness in their eyes, not savvy, so they are becoming more brazen in their attempts to bring Apple to heal. Icahn is someone to watch for that reason.

        I hope Cooks wakes up. I hope the executive board pushes him to stake a firmer stand against this stuff. I’d love it if MArisa Meyer would lend Yahoos might to that effort. The sooner they all realize that this system is going to eat their precious companies up the same way it is eating up private individuals, eventually, the sooner they’ll more effectively fight it & win.

        The longer they wait, the tighter the coils get, & the more likely it is that it’s lights out.

    5. I assume that the reason Apple held out against PRISM so long is that Steve Jobs told the NSA to go fuck itself. He was probably like: “I’m a multi-billionaire (so I’m one of your owners, dumb-asses), I’m extremely popular, and I’m dying of cancer. What the fuck do you fascist bastards think you’re gonna do to me?”
      I think Tim Cook is a good CEO, but he’s not in the same position of strength when it comes to dealing with our increasingly authoritarian corporatist government.

    1. Because she totally hot in that picture.. I’m sure it’s Marissa’s favorite pic as well.

      If you want to look at less flattering pics keep Googling. I’ll keep clicking the MDN Marissa Mayer articles to see that pic.

  2. If anyone is thinking that the company or the CEO would not suffer at the hands of the government (post NSA uncompliance) you need your head examined.

    Read up on what happened to CEO of QWEST. By the way, he is in jail for speaking up against the government.

    1. Being careful/ aware is good but being so far off the page that you do not know what book everyone is using……

      Well, that is just sad. And it gets you ignored.
      Just saying

    2. Mcman,
      Thanks SO much for your insightful contribution. Your thinking is like a laser, cutting to the heart of the matter, illuminating the issues like a veritable ray of wisdom. I’m sure everyone has been persuaded by the devastating logic and your veritably poetic use of the English language.

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