A Privacy Discussion with Edward Snowden

Just in time for this week’s discussion of privacy and security, Edward Snowden did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit. He was joined by Laura Poitras, director of Citizen Four, and Glenn Greenwald, the journalist that Snowden originally reached out to with the classified NSA documents. The conversation is an interesting Q&A that has several links for further information recommended by the respondents. After reading the AMA, several things stood out to me.

The first has nothing to do with security or privacy and is more about my fascination with the Internet. To me, it’s amazing that two people living in different countries in fear of arrest back in America have the ability to securely access Reddit and communicate with people all over the world. Additionally, I think it’s crucial that these three are on Reddit discussing issues of security and privacy as well as answering questions and bringing light to a fairly complicated issue.

The second is a quote from Glenn Greenwald: “The most shocking revelation was the overall one that the explicit goal of the NSA and its allies is captured by the slogan ‘collect it all’ – meaning they want to convert the internet into a place of limitless, mass surveillance, which is another way of saying they literally want to eliminate privacy in the digital age.”

This quote reminded me of part of The Guardian article we read for class. As everything moves online and technology advances at a rapid pace, we are less and less aware of not only how our technology works, but what information about us it can access. For whatever reason, we trust this technology and turn over personal data in exchange for some type of service. I think it’s important that citizens become educated about the true extent of the digital surveillance that occurs, even if they do believe they have “nothing to hide” (an argument that Glenn Greenwald rejects).

I assume that most citizens believe we have some right to privacy or even just some right to basic freedoms, and those that do should not only become educated about surveillance, but about how to better protect their personal information. Additionally, some amount of institutional change must occur. If the government refuses this change, Edward Snowden points out that citizens will (and already are) find ways to protect their information from surveillance to protest the government grabbing too much power.

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