The Top 10 Reputation Crises of 2013

By Suzanne Woolley and Ben Steverman - 2013-11-15T18:07:38Z

Photograph by Brooks Kraft/Corbis

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No. 2: Big Data, Big Privacy

Privacy concerns around “Big Data” reached fever pitch this year with revelations about the National Security Agency's online surveillance programs. Tech companies such as Google and Yahoo were caught in a bind, says Diermeier. On the one hand, standing up to the U.S. government on security issues is tough. On the other hand, governments including Germany, France and Brazil expressed anger that could lead to additional regulations for U.S. social media companies. Recent outrage from Google and and other tech companies over reports of alleged NSA tapping of overseas cables partially addresses those concerns, says Diermeier. U.S. companies' stated commitment to customer privacy may not overcome the perception that they don't have full authority over the issue, he adds.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment, and a Yahoo statement said the company "takes the security of our users very seriously." In an Oct. 31 statement, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence said recent articles have "mischaracterized NSA's activities and drawn erroneous inferences," adding that the "NSA conducts all of its activities in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and policies." 

Special Report: A New World of Risk

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