Ed Snowden: NSA Whistleblower Interview [12:35]
Despite the suspicion and general knowledge of tracking and spying, the recent exposure of NSA documents and information has gotten me thinking, what am I about to give up and where do I draw the line? Until I really thought about it, I never truly valued my privacy, nor could I comprehend what life would be like with the lack of privacy. Every step of our lives being documented and scrutinised, just waiting for us to become a target and then we’re torn apart with every little mistake we’ve ever made.
On June 5th 2013, The Guardian released a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) order which forced Verizon mobile to provide “on an ongoing daily basis” all call records for any call “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls” and any call made “between the United States and abroad.” Which gives over the following data: The time and date of calls placed, as well as the duration, location and other miscellaneous information about said call which would help to identify suspects (Details such as subscriber name and payment details would be acquirable via further proceedings).
Merely two days later, the Washington Post released this leaked powerpoint presentation which details methods of communication which the US National Security Agency (NSA) can actively log and store.
Washington Post: NSA slides explain the PRISM data-collection program
Here you can see that the PRISM operation allegedly collects data from monolithic companies which have access to troves of personal and private information such as VOIP calls, emails, instant messages and files which have been uploaded to said services. The NSA and US government can now ‘wiretap’ any US citizen with the push of a button from a desk anywhere in the world. All your emails and phone calls can be analysed in depth and online activities are tracked.
Later in the interview, he explains why the people who say “I don’t care, because I’ve got nothing to hide” have put much thought into their argument:
“Because even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded. And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude to where it’s getting to the point where you don’t have to have done anything wrong, you simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call. And then they can use the system to go back in time and scrutinise every decision you’ve ever made. Every friend you’ve ever discussed something with. And attack you on that basis, to derive suspicion from an innocent life, and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.“
You know someone fears the government when they openly invite it to spy on them. I believe this must end here because at what point do we say no to the invasion? Will we end up 10 years down the line with a camera (read: kinect) in our living room, having to hide around a corner to write in our diary? Will we be “taken care of” by the government if we so much utter any distaste towards their ideals? Who knows, and that’s why we need to regain mutual trust between people and their leaders.
Let’s hope this is an eye-opener for people and that Ed has sacrificed his well-being for a purpose, the worst thing that could come of this is that nothing changes.