In class we watched Edward Snowden’s TED talk in Vancouver. He explained why he did what he did and some of the inner workings of the NSA. He was asked why he chose to leak NSA documents instead of uncovering the NSA in another way. He said that if he went through Congress, everything would have been buried, and the public never would have seen that information. Instead, he sent the information and documents to journalists. Journalism is meant to work with the government, keep it in check, and communicate what the public wants.
Snowden then talked about how we can keep our information safe and secure on the internet, since the NSA has made it fairly easy for the technologically trained to access most information stored there. The only way to ensure secure web browsing is through intense encryption. The US government, however, has made that kind of encryption illegal. If we could encrypt our web browsing like this, you could do anything and everything on the internet and nobody would have any way of knowing. It sounds like great privacy, but what about the people doing bad, illegal things? There would be no way of catching them.
You may say that you don’t need this kind of privacy because you have nothing to hide. Snowden pointed out, however, that “Your rights matter because you never know when your going to need them.” The US Constitution guarantees its people certain rights that are to be protected. If we choose to ignore some of our rights because we don’t think we need them, there will come a day when we’ll want them and need them.
Whether he’s an American hero, or a traitor, I’m not sure. Regardless, the information he brought to light shows that our government has some more improving to do in many departments.
Here’s the TED talk/interview.