Recently the Guardian newspaper broke a story that the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States of America had implemented an extensive program to acquire and monitor all on-line communications. The project has been active for the past 6 years, and acquires data from Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Paltalk, AOL and Youtube.
When you put all of these services together, you will realise that they also cover 'facetime', 'google talk' and 'skype' which are all video and internet telephone conferencing facilities as well as emails, social media. Couple this with the recent discoveries that the NSA also acquired access to all of Verizon's telephone communications, and you have the largest, most insidious and far-reaching national and international communications surveillance program of all time.
This level of surveillance displays paranoia on such an industrial scale as to make the cold-war McCarthy witch-hunts seem like a storm in a tea-cup. It is quite right for everyone to be extremely concerned. As immediate allies to the United States, the UK government is quite rightly under extreme pressure to disclose their involvement. The internet service providers are at present denying culpability.
Which brings me neatly to my conclusion. The best defence is trust. If your customers know you are doing the right thing with their data, they will stick with you. If your data is wrong, or you are doing unethical things with it, expect trouble. Good data governance ensures that you honour your obligations to your customers, and prompts you to question when your government asks for too much.