Few public figures remain as relevant and controversial as Edward Snowden, the famous whistleblower who blew the lid on the United States’ surveillance operations. The past few years have not been kind to Snowden; however, he claims life is going better than expected, as he expected his stunt to win him an immediate life sentence in prison. Here Edward Snowden’s solution to data surveillance.
Snowden has thrown himself back into the news cycle once again, and no, not for another controversy. His autobiography, Permanent Record, was released on September 17th, the book detailing his search for the truth, life after the controversies, and tips on how to maintain privacy.
Due to the book’s recent release, I find it as good of a time as any to revisit the surveillance scandal and the man behind it all. What happened, where is he, and how can we, according to him, maintain our privacy?
In 2013, the United States government’s reconnaissance of its citizens was an accepted theory, but it was Snowden who cemented it as a fact. Through his connections at the Washington Post and The Guardian, Snowden revealed multiple crimes of the United States government, the main crime being the use of PRISM.
PRISM allowed the U.S. government to extract e-mails, phone numbers, and much more information from many types of devices, mainly devices sold by Apple and Microsoft. However, PRISM affected more than these two tech companies.
While the existence of PRISM threatened U.S. citizens, foreign governments found a reason to distrust the U.S., with Snowden revealing the NSA had bugged the offices of multiple EU offices.
After the release of all this damaging evidence, the U.S. government attempted a swift arrest of Snowden for espionage. Still, Snowden was able to flee to Russia, where he currently resides as a legal asylum, though this right to asylum is set to expire in 2020.
Despite his ruined reputation and unpredictable future, Snowden remains active, so active that he created his own Twitter account in 2015. One thing is clear: Snowden is determined to fight for the privacy of the world, even if his only reward is a life sentence.
It brings us to Permanent Record. In it, after outlining his situation, Snowden gives the reader advice on how the world may retain its privacy, and a piece of this advice is the use of encryption.
The Encrypted Key
According to Snowden, encryption will play a significant role in the privacy war, stating,
Encryption is the single best hope for fighting surveillance of any kind. If all our data, including our communications, were enciphered in this fashion, from end to end…then no government–no entity conceivable under our current knowledge of derivatives or physics, for that matter–would be able to understand them.
I may have earned low grades in my physics class, but I agree with his sentiment. Governments tare equipped with all they need to rip through their citizen’s veil of privacy, and nothing but encryption will be capable of fighting that off.
As citizens, we may be outgunned, but we are never outmanned, and we never lack the tools we need to keep our privacy intact from the governments seeking to take it away.
Propaganda caused Snowden to be labeled a criminal–a traitor to the U.S. However, Snowden is a hero to the eyes of many, and Snowden knows this, which is why he continues to fight for the rights of his country
No matter what happens to Snowden in the next few years–whether he is pardoned or thrown into prison–his name will stand as an example of modern bravery and where bravery will get you. In a way, he’s earned himself a permanent record in the United States’ history books.