It's striking to note which types of privacy concerns get media airtime.
On December 28th, 2012, the Senate vowed to renew FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, until the year 2017. This bill "allows federal agencies to eavesdrop on communications and review email without following an open and public warrant process". Obama signed the FISA extention on December 31st, 2012. Note that this bill was simply up for renewal and extension; this bill has been around since 1978. However, it was greatly expanded by the Bush administration to allow for both domestic and foreign surveillance without warrant. So long as the intent of the surveillance is "gathering foreign intelligence", any individual is fair to be targeted.
Originally, Senator Reid (D-Nevada) and other members of Senate sought to slip a renewal of the act through without debate. Senator Merkley (D-Oregon) is on record as warning: "Citizens generally assume our government is not spying on them. If they had any inkling of how this system really works, the details of which I cannot discuss, they would be profoundly appalled."
Senator Wyden (D-Oregon) sought to require that the director of national intelligence shares information about the vast surveillance. That would include information about how many Americans have been monitored, as well as whether communications between Americans is also being watched. Wyden's amendment had both bi-partisan support and bi-partisan opposition, and was rejected 52-43. Among those who rejected the bill were Feinstein (D-California) and Chambliss (R-Georgia), both ranking members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Feinstein claimed that the proposed Wyden amendment would expose "information about a very effective intelligence collection program that is currently classified." To see who supported and who rejected the transparency amendment: senate.gov
(edit: source for the map)
According to a quick Google search, the New York Times has still not covered the renewal of this bill. However, another Google search revealed that the New York Times has been covering the recent privacy issues with Facebook and Instagram. Here and here and here and here...
Scott Shackford hypothesizes that the media is simply responding to what the public wants--they're covering what the public cares about. And to the public, Facebook and Twitter are much more tangible and "real" than drone strikes or warrantless wiretapping or indefinite detention laws. The public is both afraid of the spector of "terrorism" and distanced from the realities of these situations--they don't have access to the majority of the infomation, after all. This makes it relatively easy for government to expand its authority beyond the Constitution's limitations without voter push-back.
The privacy concerns we have with social media feel more immediate, they hit closer to home. We hear about a security breach making Randi Zuckerberg's private Facebook photo public, and we go crazy, because we can see ourselves in that situation. Or we're concerned about our copyright and privacy rights because they're ours, so we post a silly privacy notice on our walls, thinking that, somehow, that'll show them not to mess with us!
We don't see ourselves as terrorists, as deserving being indefinitely detained or wiretapped or drone striked, so we don't care. We don't see ourselves as having this actually happen to us, so we don't mind the lack of transparency--never mind that the lack of transparency makes it easier for the government to conceal just how much they actually are watching us, how much it actually is becoming a part of our reality, how much it really does affect us. We're okay with the very real degradation of our Constitutional rights.
So, what can we do about this? For starters, the EFF and the ACLU massively campaign to keep the Government accountable. Numbers matter, the more people who express their outrage, the more the Government has to deal with a potential PR nightmare. Educate your family members, your friends. Keep up with the posts by Techdirt or Reason or whichever website provides information that you feel to be reliable on these matters.
Anyone have any other ideas? Anything more creative or radical than petitions and keeping informed?