Although Edward Snowden supporters—myself included—may lament the lackluster support received last night at the first Democratic presidential debate on CNN, the fact the candidates discussed Snowden and the NSA programs was a victory for proponents of Snowden’s principles.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:
“He stole very important information that has unfortunately fallen into the wrong hands, so I don’t think he should be brought home without facing the music.”
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley told the Las Vegas audience:
“He put a lot of Americans’ lives at risk. Snowden broke the law. Whistleblowers do not run to Russia and try to get protection from Putin.”
The arms of the Democratic candidates were not stretched wide-open to welcome Snowden back to the United States (video via Politico here).
However, Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA and other government programs in order to bring awareness to the issue of government surveillance and privacy in the 21st century. Even though a warm embrace for Snowden would have been music to the ears of many supporters, Snowden’s message is still resonating with America years later.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, famous for bravely speaking emphatically when others were silent, joined the platform where millions of other people make their voices heard in 140 characters or less—Twitter.
Jumping into the Twittersphere with the handle of @Snowden, Snowden’s first Tweet was a very simple pronouncement:
In a mix of comical and constructive conversations, comedian John Oliver recently sat down with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in Russia for an episode of “Last Week Tonight.” Oliver and Snowden discussed Hot Pockets and nude pictures as well as serious topics such as the contents of the trove of documents Snowden released to the world. Watch the video and judge the exchange for yourself:
“We have updated this monument to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies” “It would be a dishonor to those memorialized here to not laud those who protect the ideals they fought for, as Edward Snowden has by bringing the NSA’s 4th-Amendment-violating surveillance programs to light.”
The sculpture has been taken down by the New York City Police Department, citing the illegality of placing unapproved statues in a city park.
Security expert Bruce Schneier’s recent article for Forbes, “Everyone Wants You To Have Security, But Not From Them,” provides insight into a number of privacy topics. Schneier described how private tech companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook and government entities want your data to be secure – but only from their competitors. Schneier said private companies use your data for proprietary gain, and the government uses your data for “security purposes.”
The most interesting part of Schneier’s piece was his final paragraph. Here, he explained how he would solve the privacy problem:
… any long-term security solution will not only be technological, but political as well. We need laws that will protect our privacy from those who obey the laws, and to punish those who break the laws. We need laws that require those entrusted with our data to protect our data. Yes, we need better security technologies, but we also need laws mandating the use of those technologies.
In a recent article for “The Atlantic,” Harvard’s Yochai Benkler describes how whistleblowers like Edward Snowden are necessary to expose errors in large organizations. Therefore, Benkler argues, Snowden should not be punished while others reap the benefits of his risky exposure.
“[I]mmunity will be a strong statement to insiders that if the system has gone badly enough off track, and if public disclosure can lead to genuine benefits, then a conscientious individual can do the right thing.”