Secret secrets

The US government commanded the phone company Verizon to secretly collect vast amounts of data about its users activities.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order

Furthermore, Verizon was banned from admitting the existence of this secret order.

“The court order expressly bars Verizon from disclosing to the public either the existence of the FBI’s request for its customers’ records, or the court order itself.”

I am very disturbed when anyone is ordered to do something unethical and then required to deny all knowledge of that action.  At this point I truly believe that non-compliance, even if it results in prosecution, is the ethically correct action.  To do anything else is to be complicit in the creation of a privatized secret police.  I would have a huge amount of respect for any executive who stood up in public and said “we have been ordered by the government to spy on our customers and then deny all knowledge of this program, but instead we choose honesty.  We refuse to do this.  We will inform you if we receive further secret orders.  And we will accept the consequences of our honesty if necessary.”

Imagine the power of an executive choosing to go to jail rather than become complicit in large scale espionage.  That would be someone I could respect.