Consent and privacy


I am posting this discussion as a reaction to the latest episode of The Tek where Logan called Google out for using their users' information for commercial purposes saying it's no different from what the NSA is doing. Personally, I was not convinced.

My stance on private information is that it shall remain private unless required by the necessity of due process, such as that of a criminal investigation, or if I consent to that information being viewd by a second party. Even then I think it is unethical for a third party to be snooping on that information.

This brings me to Google as one example of a company that mines their users' data for commercial purposes. Seeing how the user has the option to opt out of using Google's services, it seems OK for Google to use that data for whatever purpose as long as that purpose and the fact that they're mining the data in the first place is public. When using Google's services, Google is a 2nd party which I consent to giving some information, such as surfing history as a payment for their providance of a group of services. This comes in contrast to what the NSA is doing because their data mining is without consent, is secret in nature, and is monitoring on an infrastructure level of a utility that has become very importatnt to modern life (AKA you don't have as much of an option to opt out of it)

I'm interested in knowing how everyone here feels about this. Do you think it's OK for Google or any other internet services company to mine your data given your consent, or do you think that this should not be an option to begin with?