BIG NEWS: Edward Snowden speaks immediately after the 2016 election results. He was mic’ed into a theatre on 11/10/16 in Moscow to talk about Trump’s election and the future of privacy.
Snowden began by being asked about eponymous film. He was it was surprisingly accurate and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was so warm to him. He reminds the audience that there is a ongoing FBI investigation so he can’t explain specifics about certain whistle-blowing aspects of the film.
When asked if Trump’s election made his situation better or worse, he said the whole issue isn’t about him or one single person or individual. Snowden quotes the Fourth Amendment (the right to privacy) which says the government can’t just meddle in your affairs without asking a court first. Snowden brought up the fact that Obama campaigned on a platform of ending national mass surveillance. Obama did not fulfill his promises, so that we “should be careful on putting in too much faith…or fear” in any one individual or politician.
Snowden brought up the Patriot Act, which says that USA business must cooperate with government surveillance. This is timely because of the recent Yahoo scandal, with the email provider spying on their customers and furnishing the government with even more secret customer info than what was required. In fact, Great Britain is passing a new bill that allows mass surveillance even way more than what the US requires of business.
Snowden gives the example of the FBI going after the privacy app Signal, a company that cloaks texts and phone calls in encryption. Signal wanted to fight the gag order that stopped them from informing their customers that the company was being forced to turn over to the government their customers information. Snowden says NSA’s growing ability to spy has never been effective at stopping terrorist acts. Snowden says that espionage isn’t about countering terrorism – that’s its about power and the classic bait-and-switch. For instance, using laws made to counter-terrorism, the NSA was spying on Islamists radicalists pornography habits and Australia was doing similar spying on political foes for secrets that would benefit seafood trade in Indonesia. Take for example – NSA mass spying did not stop the Boston Marathon bombings -what stops terrorism is good old fashion police work. When you collect EVERYTHING, nothing is relevant because you get DROWNED in information.
Snowden says he isn’t against targeted surveillance with warrants, that is warranted against individuals who are grievously hurting other people. What he is against, is spying on the masses. He says even if mass surveillance did stop terrrorism and all murder even, we wouldn’t necessarily want that anyway. He said that would halt progress because government spying could enforce every single law at all times. If that was true, things like gay marriage, women voting etc would have never been able to have been talked about, fought against and overridden. His belief is that technology is not always a good thing for mankind.
- –Use Start Page, not Google because Google indexes everything forever. Weigh threat versus convenience.
- –Encrypt your devices. Android lets you protect your phone more, in case you lose it.
- –Use two step authentication.
- –Use the Tor browser. (Note: I’ve read that you may be labeled a “suspicious person” if you use Tor, Tor is designed to keep your internet moves Private) Please See my video on BROWSER SPYING
- –It’s a quick and fun way to see how Google Yahoo, Bing etc get your information when you use their browsers.
- –Support privacy and civil rights groups, like the ACLU.
However the point is, Snowden says we shouldn’t have to do this. This means he’s advocating we get involved and speak up:
“Privacy isn’t about something to hide, it’s about something to protect. Privacy is the right to the self. Privacy is the foundation of all of the rights. That’s like saying, i don’t want freedom. I don’t want liberty. But I think we can do better. I think the rights we’ve inherited are a blessing.”
He said politicians don’t need privacy; they already have power. If you are a minority, if you are a little disenfranchised or a little bit different, then you may consider protection. Snowden was asked if we care enough about privacy in present day. The patriot answers: “I think we do. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s that we’ve been dis-empowered.” Snowden advocates for awareness. He understands that we can’t all be experts on privacy and security but we CAN support groups that DO understand, that are fighting for your rights, that we can send them money and support them other ways
The moderator reminds the audience that Snowden IS willing to return to America and stand trial – in the circumstance that he gets a fair trial. Snowden would agree to turn himself over to his homeland if he is tried by his a jury of his peers. However, the government charged him under very specific circumstances (the Espionage Act). This act was supposed to used against foreigns spies, but is really being used for domestic journalists and outspoken critics of surveillance and would preclude him from a jury trial. The government said they can’t promise him a jury – only that they are willing to agree to not torture him. He talks about wanting to come home but he wants to be an example for standing up and doing the right thing for people European lawmakers called for protection against whistle-blowers yet he says the Obama administration has been the most secretive to date.
Photo credit: Elena Polio - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/