Monday, November 05, 2007

Citizen Telecom

John Ashcroft makes a case in the New York Times for protecting the telecom corporations that may have aided the government in eavesdropping:

Assuming that the country’s communications companies helped the National Security Agency track Qaeda operatives and other terrorists after being assured that their conduct was lawful, they acted as patriots, not privacy violators.

This is an interesting view of the corporation as a person, as a citizen, deputized by authorities on the spot. A sort of posse corporatatus. I think it would have been astonishing to 19th century Americans. It would have seemed natural after World War II. Now? More and more, corporations are no longer citizens of any one nation. General Motors builds cars in South America; Toyota builds them in Tennessee. What nation is Google a citizen of? Or Yahoo?