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DU professor says private companies supply government with secret information

9:38 PM, Jun 25, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - Edward Snowden is allegedly on the run with classified documents disclosing U.S. government surveillance programs that collect massive amounts of text messages and internet records.

A local international security expert says that while the government may be amalgamating information - it's the private sector that collects most of it.

"The fact that all this information is collected by the private sector about us is not something that people are talking about and that's something that's really concerning to me," Deborah Avant, Director of the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. 

"Companies can use the information they collect to pursue their commercial interests - just like the government can use this information that is getting from them to pursue national security interests."

Snowden worked for Booz Allen, a private consulting services company.

On its website, the company claims to "see, hear and innovate" on behalf of its clients, which includes the U.S. government.

"They [Booz Allen] basically do whatever people need to be done. Booz Allen is like this gigantic matchmaker - drawing together people that have particular expertise with jobs that need to get done - mostly in the government - but also in the private sector."
She says the company does everything from environmental work to homeland security work.

"What these big contracting firms do basically is - they kind of go where the money is and they bring together people with expertise to sort of to staff certain contracts that hat government wants done," Avant said.

Americans voluntarily and publicly give up information about their daily lives in many ways, including social media.

Avant wonders if Americans should be more concerned about private companies having access to our private information.

"[With the] government - at least we can have hearings and vote people out that we don't agree with," Avant said. "When information is collected by the private sector, we have fewer opportunities to sort of weigh in."

"It's kind of perplexing to me. We have all these commercial companies that are doing this security work. Isn't that a big problem?" Avant asked. "The fact that all these commercial companies have all this intelligence about us...People don't seem to be talking about [that] as much."

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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