With the acceleration in terrorist attacks around the world, it can't be long before the debate escalates and pressure rises on those companies whose products and services are being used to plan, communicate and execute these horrendous crimes against innocent people.
Technology is aiding many of these attacks — and technology can unquestionably slow and help dramatically reduce them. The CEOs of Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Google and the dozens of other legitimate companies whose products are being hijacked to commit these crimes need to get in front of the issue.
It's time for these companies to stand up, form a coalition, and commit to doing everything they can to help the citizens and governments of the free world wipe out the extremists.
Frankly, the politicians are not capable of doing what is necessary. Everything in politics has become about fighting the other side, be it right or wrong. I wish I believed that these elected representatives want to do the right thing, but they don't. They merely want to be re-elected. Few, if any of them, even act as representatives, which is what they are supposed to be. Instead, they have convinced themselves we have elected them leaders. Not a single career politician is a leader of the constituents he or she is supposed to be there to represent.
This is why we need the private sector to stop pretending it has no obligation to help and step up to the plate. It's scary stuff for a CEO of a company whose first obligation is to run a profitable business. But all of these firms need to stop hiding behind the fake moral high ground about protecting
privacy and realize they are going to have to be part of the answer, either willingly or not. If they don't, the loss of privacy is going to be far greater in the long run. In the end, the reality is there is no real privacy on the internet.
If these companies do not step up and address the issue, the pressure from people around the world eventually will rise to the point where they will be forced to take action by the same incompetent politicians that are clueless as to how to stop this.
There will be a point where little girls being blown up at a pop music concert, people being mowed down on a bridge, or people being attacked while sitting in a restaurant won't be tolerated any longer. The citizenry will rise up and push the politicians to knock off the political correctness, fighting and inaction — and halt the craziness.
If the same politicians that talk about how horrible these attacks are and do nothing of substance to stop them start to lose their jobs, then things will change. And when that happens, the regulation that comes down will be far more restrictive and poorly constructed than it needs to be. But if the same CEOs that have become incredibly wealthy because of high-tech got together and came out as a large group saying they are ready, willing and able to help by working with the intelligence community, it would be warmly received by most.
Would there be those who raise the alarm bell on the loss of privacy? You bet there will be, but in the end the No. 1 obligation of all governments is to protect the citizenry. If losing some privacy is the price that needs to be paid to stop this insanity, sign me up. But I'd feel a lot better about it if it was being led by a coalition of private companies with government oversight because I would have more confidence that it would actually work.
BACKTALK: Make something happen. Robert Faletra is CEO of The Channel Company. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.