Post Square 12.24.13 ~ Indoor Cat
After 9/11, President George W. Bush ordered the National Security Agency to begin collecting data domestically without authority from Congress or the courts. Since then, the NSA has compiled records of ordinary people through hundreds of millions of email addresses, hundreds of billions of cell phone locations and trillions of domestic call logs.
Edward Snowden, former contractor at NSA, saw this activity as a “dangerous machine of mass surveillance” that was growing unchecked. He approached his supervisors and co-workers about his concerns, but no one he spoke to wanted to hear it.
Snowden knew he had to do something, even if it turned out that the public didn’t share his views. He felt strongly that the government should not know everything about everybody because it had the “power to take away life and freedom”, and because he saw privacy as a universal right.
In June 2013 Snowden leaked documents to the press that exposed the secret surveillance programs of the NSA. (And the shit hit the fan.) The repercussions were felt in Congress, the courts, in popular media, Silicon Valley and around the world.
When all this happened Snowden knew he needed to get the heck outta Dodge and fled to Russia, where he was granted asylum for one year. He stays in his Moscow hotel, lives on ramen noodles and chips, and is connected to the outside through the Internet. He describes his life as that of an indoor cat.
The actions of Edward Snowden have undoubtedly done some serious damage to America’s ability to gather intelligence, showing our adversaries just what they need to do to avoid being tracked. It is not apparent what NSA is doing differently at this point. The agency can still collect data on anyone, but companies such as Google and Yahoo are working on ways to make it harder for them.