Yesterday, it was revealed that Ed Snowden was the whistleblower, who exposed some details of NSA surveillance capabilities, often going far beyond what people expected. If you haven’t yet, you should watch his video interview with Glenn Greenwald where he goes into more detail:
Here’s a bit that caught my attention:
“I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you, or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President if I had a personal email.
The wording here is a little unclear, since “wiretap” generally means capturing voice conversations, but saying that he would need a personal email from the President to wiretap him suggests he’s talking specifically about access their emails. Either way, given that we keep being told that the NSA is only supposed to cover non-US persons, the fact that a 29-year-old computer guy working for the NSA claims he could get access to anyone’s email just by having their email address suggests, certainly, that there isn’t much (if any) oversight, and the NSA is clearly not careful about the data it’s scooping up.
Later in the interview, he explains why the people who say “I don’t care, because I’ve got nothing to hide” are complete and total idiots:
“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 scrutinize 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.”
There’s a lot more in the interview, which is absolutely worth watching. No one ever got to hear Bradley Manning speak before he got whisked away. Ed Snowden appears to have put a lot more thought and planning into what he was doing than Manning, and here we actually get to hear his thoughts.