These days, data snooping and privacy laws are among the hottest topics in the world, thanks in big part to Edward Snowden. No, he’s not Hollywood’s latest “It” celebrity, though it’s easy to think otherwise given all the coverage he’s been getting. His story sounds like it came straight from a thriller, with elements of espionage, a global manhunt and a hero that many people can’t help but root for. Add in a proposal from a Russian spy-turned-model on the ubiquitous Twitter, and you’ve got the makings of a box office hit.
Is your interest piqued yet? Read on to find out more about this developing story and why you should be concerned with the travails of the bespectacled Mr. Snowden.
The Plot and its Players
By all accounts, Edward Snowden is a computer whiz, but instead of going the popular route of developing his own groundbreaking app or website, he went on to work for the US intelligence. He held positions in the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), which exposed him to the secret goings-on of the government. Last May, Snowden filed for a temporary leave from his office in Hawaii and boarded a plane to Hong Kong, where he holed up in a hotel for a few weeks as information about the NSA’s Internet and phone surveillance programs were published all over the world.
Soon enough, the US was calling for his extradition, and Snowden fled to Russia, inciting a flurry of talks between the US and different world leaders. Despite the slew of reporters who descended upon Sheremetyevo Airport in hopes of bumping into Snowden, his exact whereabouts within the airport remains unknown. Snowden is currently stranded there as he waits for the responses to his requests for asylum. As of July 6, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela have expressed their willingness to offer him asylum, but with the world’s biggest superpower gunning for him, Snowden’s fate is still up in the air.
International Critiques and Reviews
In his interview with The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, Snowden said, “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things… I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded.” Judging from the uproar of many groups and individuals, Snowden isn’t alone in this sentiment. The US Independence Day celebrations were marred by anti-NSA protests both on the streets and online, with people calling for the restoration of the Fourth Amendment. Snowden’s leaked documents have sparked debates and probes not only in the US, but also across the globe—especially with reports that the US isn’t the only one playing Big Brother.
These programs gather millions of information through phone records and Internet servers. That’s pretty alarming to most people since almost everyone’s on the Internet nowadays. And though the Internet is open by nature, that doesn’t mean that people want their personal communications scanned by unknown eyes and subjected to interpretation. It could be argued that something posted on a blog for the public to see is fair game, but what about private conversations on channels that are supposed to be secure?
Now that the world’s becoming increasingly linked in and the Internet’s as pervasive as ever, it’s about time that lawmakers rethink their policies. While the intent to identify threats to public safety is well and good, should that trump people’s right to privacy?
We’re sure to hear more about this in the months, even years to come. In the meantime, though privacy controls on your favorite networking sites might not hold up to intelligence agency surveillance, it isn’t a bad idea to review your preferred settings. At the very least, they’ll keep your secrets from going viral. And though the jury’s still out on the case of Edward Snowden, you’ve got to give him credit for sticking to his guns despite guaranteed persecution.
On a side note, you might be interested to know that a group of amateur filmmakers in Hong Kong have already produced a short film on Snowden, entitled “Verax”. It’s only five minutes long, but it’s five minutes longer than Hollywood has so far.