From today's Washington Post
The issue of national security letters poses a dilemma for telecommunications carriers, which want to comply with government efforts to fight terrorism but also want to be seen as respecting customers' privacy, said Herbert Fenster, a director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's National Chamber Litigation Center who has represented major carriers.
"There is a natural tension between good citizenship on the one hand and sound business judgment on the other," he said. "When complying necessitates that they partner with the government, and when it all comes out [in public], it's bad for business."
In other words, we mega conglomerates are very happy to work hand in glove with government to screw our customers, but it presents a marketing issue.
Some time ago, I gave a speech at the National ACLU convention called outsourcing Big Brother
. I observed that the problem with deregulating industry and permitting unrestrained consolidation is that megacorps and government have a natural instinct to work together for their mutual benefit. The result is the forms of Libertarian deregulation with the reality of government control: Big Brother via outsourcing.
The above quote neatly illustrates this principle. Bluntly, this is why we have privacy laws -- so that corporations cannot voluntarily cooperate with government without our consent to subvert our civil liberties. All those who think that you can manage your privacy rights via free market competition and negotiation alone are invited to think again.