When the leaks first came out, I regarded him as a hero, for exposing what the US Government was doing. At this time my view of the world was extremely America centric, where all other countries were pretty powerless and the US was the only one doing such deeds. I think this view was fairly naive.
In the last decade my thinking has changed. After seeing that Russia, China, many EU countries, Iran, and Israel have similar programs and are also weaponizing the internet, I've come to think of Edward Snowden as a traitor. It is not just the US doing these things, everyone is. He exposed the US's tools and has weakened the US's security position immensely. Countries like China and Russia are gaining in this new battlefield, and what advantage the US had has was lost with Snowden. It is now more like if he leaked the schematics of US weapons to Russia during the cold war. I find it telling as well that he fled to Russia.
I find many people have had a similar turn of opinion with Julian Assange. Perhaps it is because Geo Politics has simply gotten more confusing -- it does seem that America is no longer the 'World Police'
But on the other hand, he did wake up Americans to the concept of security. Once the cat was out of the bag that everyone was being spied on, and that governments have the power to breach systems, it seems that people have come to care more about these matters. I would say this a good thing
He is definitely a very interesting topic
Also, regarding this geopolitical information warfare business - none of us were told about this, or asked if this was a game we wanted to play. That is not how democracy is supposed to work. Defense, sure. But the best defense against the current way that Russia/China is weaponizing the internet is sunlight, not secrecy. In this too, the NSA is derelict.
Also Snowden didn't "flee to Russia" - that's pure right-wing "talking point" (lie). His passport was suspended by the US State Department while on layover in Moscow.
And China/PRC != Hong Kong, whatever Beijing would have you believe. Why are you posting propaganda?
Have you heard Snowden speak? I've not heard many people in my life who are more educated and eloquent.
I've known many people like that who can convince laypeople that they're smart, but everybody in the field (software engineers at Internet companies in Snowden's case) immediately sees how stupid they are. Look at flat Earthers and antivaxxers for contemporary examples.
He exposed the US government illegally spying on their own citizens (and lying about it), at massive personal risk. He's a hero of true democracy. That's all I need to know.
This layperson is also convinced he's smart, BTW.
And no, he didn't flee to china, he transited through Hong Kong, which seems to be a sound tactical choice considering Hong Kongs unique position in international politics.
EFF has no evidence that it was anything more than that. If it was anything more than that, don't you think Snowden would have leaked it?
> he transited through Hong Kong
Not by choice. He wanted to stay in Hong Kong, but Hong Kong wanted nothing to do with him.
“I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law.”
A lot of it is public record, no need to leak: https://www.eff.org/nsa-spying/timeline
For me he made the Great Game of Privacy a lot fairer. You should read the excellent entry on Wikipedia about the aftermath of the leaks. If the leaks meant that privacy-loving folk went 'dark' in light of the leaks, then this is a net plus. Snowden's actions possibly hindered NSA in catching undesirables, but it's a small price to pay for a bolstered Internet and privacy-respecting comms. And who's to say that the apparatus even worked that well in foiling the efforts of plotters? Bill Binney consistently drives his message home that the NSA's surveillance apparatus is very inefficient at foiling plots, and I agree with him.
Even if it stopped one plot in all the time of its existence, it's still an enormous effort and an enormous amount of money spent just to foil one plot. Old fashioned police work is better at foiling plots because it doesn't have to rely on big data algorithms sifting through the noise of Internet traffic (most of which is innocuous). Old fashioned methods work because they employ simple detective work - it doesn't need the NSA at every choke point and decrypting countless crypto.
He didn't flee to Russia. He fled to Hong Kong, hoping to live a good life outside the great firewall by getting into the PRC's good graces via transfer of classified material to them. https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1266777/exclusiv...
Unfortunately for him, China just laughed at him and kicked him out.
If there's a lesson in all this, it's to pay attention in reading comprehension lessons in elementary school or you might misread documents, get paranoid, and flee to oppressive regimes.
Also, "published" because Snowden didn't publish anything. He showed documents to SCMP, which publishes a newspaper.
This "weaponization" of the Internet narrative is based around casting vulnerabilities as if they're "nobody's fault", rather than mundane gross negligence. The digital realm inherently favors defenders - if there is no logic error, packets just bounce off. And this applies even in the less-certain psychological realm - foster a culture of rejecting sensationalized propaganda and it will no longer rule elections!
But a narrative based around shoring up defenses and being diligent would be pretty boring. And the news media certainly doesn't want to attack propaganda generally, merely stave off "Russian" propaganda to preserve their own authority. So the whole topic gets sensationalized as the age-old escalation-aimed status quo - governments saber ratting at each other to drum up internal support.
But free people are not countries and we are especially not governments. What Snowden exposed was how governments, specifically the US government, are attacking their own citizens in the name of this "security". Everybody involved in tech should have already known, but just didn't want to admit it to themselves because it is so "anti-American" and conflicts with the web 2.0 gravy train. Snowden certainly wasn't the first, but he was at the right time with the right information the public can grok (XKEYSCORE vs 641A).
Additionally, the government has no philosophical mandate without the oversight of and subservience to The People. If you want to throw around the term "traitor", look no further than these agencies that swear oath to the Constitution and then work to undermine it by escaping from its governance! No matter how much "collateral damage" was done to that game of USG spooks playing with other spooks, spilling the beans is justified to push these activities back under control of the People.
"Blindly trust us, we're working behind the scenes to keep you safe, but can't tell you how" is not the setup of a Free society. This is the overarching dynamic that the mass media generally downplays in their present narrative, preferring people identify with the power structure rather than emphasizing how it is acting against them.
Yeah, I knew back in 2008 or so, well pre-Snowden, and it freaked me out. Room 641A was the major giveaway, but there were lots of little things. I told all my friends about it - and got shrugs. They either didn't care, or didn't believe me and wrote it off as conspiracy-theory nonsense. The sad fact is that it takes the media telling people something is a scandal before they'll believe it is one, and for that to happen there has to be an event to report on. Snowden's role was more that, and making the evidence really incontrovertible. Before that, what could we, as tech people, have done?
Oh, and, witnessing the inevitable flip from "that can't possibly be happening" to "of course that's happening, I knew it all along, no big deal" was a frustrating experience. Only one of my friends came to me and was big enough to say "you were right". It taught me an unpleasant fact of people's psychology: people have such astonishing status-quo bias that they will rewrite the past to match the present.
> "that can't possibly be happening" ... "of course that's happening, I knew it all along, no big deal"
At first glance these appear to be opposed, but they are actually both just cognitive dissonance modulo different unignorable facts.
> one of my friends came to me and was big enough to say "you were right".
This is called taking responsibility. The hurdle wasn't even the admitting you were right, but rather themselves coming to terms with the implications.
Very perceptive. What blows me away is that even knowing the past, they still think the future won't be different.
I'm in Australia, and the amount of apathy is astounding.
Scary developments like the AABill which is to literally force citizen sysadmins to secretly spy on other citizens under threat of 10 years jail, with no oversight and no ability for legal representation.
Passed with bipartisan support, except for some amendments that were meant to happen in February which would have made the catastrophic bill just disastrous.
No amendments have happened, there is no media interest, and no concern from the lobotomized public.
It certainly was frustrating because "that" still isn't happening. It taught me the unpleasant fact that people will believe any conspiracy theory as long as a newspaper prints it, even if every other newspaper points out everything wrong with the conspiracy theory.
Why does Snowden's twitter only follow @NSAGov? Are they his sole "target" forever? His entire social presence is centered around this idea of the NSA being his sole "adversary"? He torched the NSA to the ground.
Why did someone who is so calculating execute an ostensibly haphazard plan to end up overseas? Intentional or not, Snowden went to HK then Russia. He stays in Russia to avoid facing justice.
How much time did Snowden have to plan for his escape? At least since December 2012. It was enough time for him to think through and coordinate the biggest part of such a plan: the diversion. It would not be surprising to discover that he had help domestically during this process.
The forthcoming book does allow Snowden to write his own history.
Snowden is still a hero to me. At least he shone light on it. Before that, Wyden tried to do it through official channels, but Clapper outright lied in public.
So what do you do? Collect paycheck, keep your head down, not make waves and listen to elected critters make statements you know to run counter to reality.
Alternatively, you can tell the truth and risk government wrath for telling how things really work.
Yeah. What a scumbag that Snowden is.