These outfits make much of their astronomical incomes by providing the hardware or the software needed to ship their customers' data around the planet at the speed of light, store it in massive servers and, yes, sometimes, mine the data for information that can be used to match online advertising to individuals whose histories suggest an interest in specific products or services.
That business model has enough trouble already, as many people are reasonably concerned that their personal information is going to be used against their sales resistance. The further knowledge, coming from the revelations from rogue NSA contractor Edward Snowden, that the U.S. and U.K. are gathering billions of records of cell phone calls, Internet searches, even online gaming chats is the last thing the industry needs.
Governments, corporations and individuals in Europe and South America are royally steamed at the news. Their willingness to use American-made hardware and American-based networks are seriously undermined by the knowledge that governments with no specific target can sift through their data for purposes unknown and unknowable.
What the Internet barons want, what all of us should demand, is a surveillance system that recalls what the Fourth Amendment demands: Government searches that are targeted at specific persons and specific information, authorized by warrants and overseen by an independent judiciary.
They also want the ability to go into the secret court that oversees electronic surveillance, argue against overbroad or mistargeted subpoenas and warrants and to go public with whatever the government is demanding and whatever they are doing to comply or resist.
That is exactly what should happen. And soon.