Hey, I was going to write that (wiretapping)
In Slate Eric Weiner beats me to the punch on comparing wiretapping in the US and Europe:
For Europeans, scolding the Bush administration for everything from Guantanamo to the Iraq War to secret CIA prisons has become a full-time job. But when it comes to the American scandal over President Bush’s warrantless wiretaps, there’s been a curious reaction from the other side of the Atlantic: silence. Where is the European outrage?
European restraint may arise from a fear of hypocrisy. The fact is that in much of Europe wiretapping is de rigueur practiced more regularly and with less oversight than in the United States. Most Europeans either don’t know about this or, more likely, simply don’t care.
Cut to the bottom line:
So, why are Europeans so nonchalant when it comes to government eavesdropping? One reason is that sometimes it works. When Osman Hussain, a suspect in the botched July 21 London bombing, fled Britain, police traced his journey across the United Kingdom to France and then Italy, where he was arrested by tapping his cell phone.
There is a cultural explanation, too. Europeans tend to trust their private information with governments, not corporations. So, while they wouldn’t dream of divulging their credit card number to a telemarketer they will gladly hand it over to a government clerk. The state is seen as more benevolent than those greedy, Americanized corporations.
Which is in effect what I said the other day.
The government isn’t perfect, but generally speaking they want to take care of you (not in a welfare sort of way, though there is that) not screw you. Corporations, I guarantee, just want to screw you. Well, except Target (no pun intended).