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The Perils of Whistleblowing: My Interview With Edward Snowden – Entrepreneur

In 2013, Edward Snowdens life — and the world — changed forever. This former NSA contractor blew the whistle on the agencys practice of collecting private information and conducting mass surveillance on citizens when he brought evidence to the press and then left the country.

In a video chat moderated by Secret Knock conference organizerGreg S. Reid, I was able to ask him a question directly. “Do you have any regrets?” I asked.

My mission was never to change the world, he said.My mission was to return public information to public hands so you could determine whether things should change…. I regret only that I did not do more — sooner and bolder.”

In part, Snowden hoped his actions would embolden others to step forward when they saw wrongdoing. While the majority of us will never be called on to report anything of comparable national or global scale, you may be one day called on to speak up. In a 2011 poll, 45 percent of American workers stated that they had observed wrongdoing in the workplace. Whether you’re a business owner or an employee, here are my suggestions, coupled with Snowden’s experience, on how to stop being a passive observer and become a safe whistleblower.

Related:Why You Should EncourageWhistleblowingin Your Organization

The line between a whistleblower and a leaker is fine and hotly debated. The general distinguishing mark tends to be the avenues taken to release information to the public. Whistleblowers are those who follow legally established procedures for exposing wrongdoing; they work within the system, reporting to the proper authorities so that matters can be handled internally. The leaker is one who bypasses the system altogether and goes directly to the press. The former is protected and guided by law; the latter is not.

To this day, Snowden maintains he did everything he could to work within the system. I still made tremendous efforts to report these programs to co-workers, supervisors, and anyone with the proper clearance who would listen, he said in a 2014 live Q&A. The reactions of those I told about the scale of the constitutional violations ranged from deeply concerned to appalled, but no one was willing to risk their jobs, families, and possibly even freedom to go to through what [Thomas] Drake did.

It was only after facing this internal resistance that he turned to journalists to help get his message out. Even then, he was careful. As a condition of access to archive, I required journalists to go to the government in advance and tell them what they were going to be writing so the government had a chance for rebuttal, he said. In every case, process has been followed.

Related:Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Launches Investigation Into Sexual Harassment Claims

For those who would follow Snowdens example, the single greatest obstacle is fear. Snowdens colleagues were intimidated by the example of Thomas Drake, former NSA executive who revealed unethical acts committed by the NSA and subsequently endured raids by the FBI and prolonged prosecution. Similar examples are often enough to deter any would-be whistleblower.

The greatest threat to fear is knowledge. Take time to investigate whistleblower protection programs. Research and understand your rights. Identify those groups that can support you while working.

Related:When the CEO Goes Bad, the Whole Company Needs a Fresh Look

Protection aside, once youve blown the whistle, youre in for a rough ride. Snowden had no misunderstandings. Though he never intended to end up in Russia, he did expect to end up in a jumpsuit in Guantanamo Bay. He understood that calling attention would mean an end of his life as hed been living it. I realized I had to come forward, light a match, burn my life to the ground if this was really going to work.

As Snowdens case has demonstrated, whistleblowing isnt as simple as identifying a problem and accepting a reward. Be ready for backlash from within and without your organization as you stand by your principles. Since 2009, retaliation has increased 83 percent, while whistleblowing incidents have only increased by 12 percent.

If youre not willing to be called bad names, . . . you dont really believe in anything that much, he says. Being criticized is the price of admission for achieving change. The most common thing in the world of politics is that change is never comfortable.

Intimidation isnt the only route that businesses and governments will take to silence whistleblowers. Many will offer hush money, effectively turning you from an opponent into an accomplice. Dont take that risk. Too many examples show when the coverup is revealed, both the company and the silenced party are worse off.

On the one hand, hotlines are a powerful asset. Calls are made and recorded are proof the employee has performed their due diligence in reporting wrongdoing.

On the other hand, the hotline is a conflict of interest on the companys part. In his book, The Whistleblowers Handbook, Stephen Kohn advises caution. Hotline programs are under no duty to help whistleblowers, Kohn writes. They are voluntary programs, and the nature and extent of their investigations are outside of the control of the employee. There is no requirement that these programs offer employees complete or accurate information about their legal rights. In other words, the programs exist for the benefit of the government/corporation; they are not legal service programs for whistleblowers.

Related:Radical Inclusion: How Burning Man is Helping Create a New Breed of Entrepreneur

When asked, Snowden said he only regrets how long it took him to come forward.

I would do it again, he said. Despite everything that has happened to him, he believes firmly that the good in the world outweighs the bad. Investigation incited by Snowdens revelations revealed that the NSAs mass surveillance tactics had done nothing to stop terror attacks. Despite condemning Snowdens actions in his State of the Union address, President Obama called for reform within the NSA and Congress. None of that would have happened if Snowden hadnt taken the risk and come forward.

Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D., is the CEO of Osmond Marketing. She enjoys reading business books, playing the violin and trying new restaurants with her husband and five children. Follow her at @amyocook.

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The Perils of Whistleblowing: My Interview With Edward Snowden – Entrepreneur

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June 9, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Vladimir Putin reveals his views on women, gays and Edward Snowden – Zee News

London: Russian President Vladimir Putin does not have bad days because he is “not a woman”, and would rather not shower next to a gay man because he wouldn`t want to “provoke him”.

The Russian President`s comments came in series of interviews with American film director Oliver Stone on topics ranging from geopolitics to gay rights and Edward Snowden.

“The Putin Interviews”, a documentary comprised of conversations with the Russian president that took place between July 2015 and February 2017, show Putin musing on life and philosophy.

“Do you ever have a bad day?” Putin was asked during a tour of the Throne Room, and he said, “I`m not a woman so I don`t have bad days.” He then doubles down on the misogyny, explaining that, “There are certain natural cycles which men probably have as well, just less manifested. We are all human beings.

It`s normal. But you should never lose control,” the Guardian quotes Putin, as saying.On the question whether gays can serve in the military in Russia, Putin said, “If you`re taking a shower in a submarine with a man and you know he`s gay, do they have a problem with that?

“Putin even denied that there was any persecution of gay people in Russia, despite a law being passed against the “propaganda of homosexuality among minors” and recent reports of a “gay purge” in the Russian republic of Chechnya.

When asked whether he would be comfortable showering next to a gay man, he said no.”I prefer not to go to the shower with him. Why provoke him? But you know, I`m a judo master,” said Putin laughing.In the interview with Stone, Putin reveals that he once suggested to former U.S. president Bill Clinton that Russia may consider joining a Washington-led military alliance.

Commenting on U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Russian President said, “Snowden is not a traitor. He did not betray the interests of his country.

Nor did he transfer any information to any other country which would have been pernicious to his own country or to his own people. The only thing Snowden does, he does publicly.”Putin also appeared to change the story of how Snowden ended up in Moscow.”Our first contact with Snowden was in China.

We were told back then that this was a person who wanted to fight against violations of human rights,” Putin said.At the time, however, Putin and other Russian officials gave the impression that the first Russia knew of Snowden was when he arrived in Moscow with the intention to transit to Latin America.

“Snowden arrived in Moscow, which was completely unexpected for us. He came as a transit passenger, so he didn`t need a visa or other documents,” Putin said then.When asked if he was worried about assassination attempts, Putin said “They say those who are destined to be hanged are not going to drown.

“Putin, an ex- KGB Foreign Intelligence Officer for 16 years, said “I remember one of our last meetings with President Clinton, when Clinton was still in office. He visited Moscow and during a discussion I said, `So, what if [we] consider an option of Russia maybe joining NATO.

“While Clinton replied that he “didn`t mind,” the rest of the American delegation became visibly nervous, Putin recalled with a smile.Putin called NATO “an instrument of America`s foreign policy,” saying that the US-led alliance “has no allies, but only vassals.

“According to the Russian leader, some member states find it hard to resist Washington`s pressure, and thus, “anything can be easily placed” on their territories, including both anti-missile and offensive systems.

“And what are we supposed to do? Due to that, we have to take counter measures,” Putin told his American interviewer. Promoted as “the most detailed portrait of Putin ever granted to a Western interviewer,” it will feature interviews between the director and the Russian leader that were made during several encounters over two years.

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Vladimir Putin reveals his views on women, gays and Edward Snowden – Zee News

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How Does Reality Winner Compare To Edward Snowden After …

A 25-year-old government contractor was arrested Tuesday after providing a top secret NSA document to the news website The Intercept, reports NBC News. The document is from May 5.

The document is an analysis of Russian intelligence efforts to undermine the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It doesnt detail a direct link to any votes being changed, but does outline a concerted and deeper effort than previously known. The analysis describes a technique called spear phishing, where spoof e-mails invite user to click on links or open attachments that contain malicious software. The attacks targeted an election software company and 122 local election officials.

Read:Edward Snowden Reacts To WikiLeaks’ Vault 7 Dump, Calls CIA Documents ‘Authentic’

This is in direct opposition to what Russian President Vladimir has claimed, saying that the Russian state has not been involved in any kind of hacking.

The leaker, a government contractor named Reality Leigh Winner, was charged with gathering, transmitting or losing defense information in U.S. District Court in Georgia. The federal complaint accuses Winner of unlawfully transmit(ing) the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet.

Winner worked for Pluribus International Corporation in Georgia. CNN reportedThursdaythat her mother said she had never praised past leakers such as Edward Snowden and wasnt particularly political. She also spent six months in the military.

Winner had a top secret clearance for documents and faces up to 10 years in prison.

The Snowden case differs from Winner in several key components.

While we dont know if Winner took more than the one document, Snowden took thousands, at least seven thousand of which have been published, according to Business Insider.

Snowden was also careful to leave his job as a contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii and flee to China before releasing the documents, putting him out of reach of authorities. Both are charged with violating the espionage act.

Read:Why The US Wants To Arrest Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Founder, A Matter Jeff Sessions Called ‘A Priority’

Both leakers, however, are working with journalist Glenn Greenwald. The Intercept was founded in 2013 by Greenwald. Snowden worked with Greenwald while he was reporting for British newspaper The Guardian. Both leakers took information related to the NSA, but Snowdens had far greater reach and impact.

President Donald Trump has been very vocal about his disdain for leakers, especially on Twitter. He often parlays news stories by going after leakers as the real story.

Reality Winner poses in a photo posted to her Instagram account Photo: REUTERS

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How Does Reality Winner Compare To Edward Snowden After …

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Edward Snowden: Prosecuting NSA Leaker Threatens The Free Press – HuffPost

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is speaking out in support of Reality Winner, who was arrested by the FBI onSaturday on charges of violating the Espionage Act.

Winner, 25, a federal contractor with Pluribus International Corp. in Augusta, Georgia, is accused ofremoving classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The arrest came after The Intercept releaseda classified National Security Agency reportabout Russian military intelligence officers alleged attempt to carry out a cyberattack on a voting software company and on local election officials days before the 2016 U.S. election.

Snowden can relate to Winners experience, as he was charged in 2013with stealing government property and violating the Espionage Act.The former Central Intelligence Agency employee and NSA contractor has been living under asylum in Russia ever since he fled the United States that year.

Winner is currentlybeing held in a federal detention center in Lincolnton, Georgia. Her attorney Titus Nichols fears shes being questioned when hes not present.

Reuters

Snowden, who is president of the board for the Freedom of the Press Foundation, described the Espionage Act as a fundamental threat to the free press in a statement on Tuesday.

He wrote that the World War I era law meant for spies explicitly forbids the jury from hearing why the defendant acted, and bars them from deciding whether the outcome was to the publics benefit.

Snowden says thats especially chilling because Winner was allegedly a journalistic source for a leading American news outlet about a matter of critical public importance, and not a spy.

This often-condemned law provides no space to distinguish the extraordinary disclosure of inappropriately classified information in the public interestwhistleblowing from the malicious disclosure of secrets to foreign governments by those motivated by a specific intent to harm to their countrymen.

Snowden said that if America truly values free trials, Winner deserves to be released on bail.

No matter ones opinions on the propriety of the charges against her, we should all agree Winner should be released on bail pending trial. Even if you take all the government allegations as true, its clear she is neither a threat to public safety nor a flight risk. To hold a citizen incommunicado and indefinitely while awaiting trial for the alleged crime of serving as a journalistic source should outrage us all.

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Edward Snowden: Prosecuting NSA Leaker Threatens The Free Press – HuffPost

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Vladimir Putin on Edward Snowden’s NSA Leak: He Shouldn’t Have Done It – Newsweek

Russian President Vladimir Putinbelieves Edward Snowdens decisionto leaktop-secret information from the National Security Agency was wrong.

Yet speaking in an interview with Oliver Stone for a series called The Putin Interviews,which airs onShowtime on June 12, the Russian president also defended Snowden, a former NSA contractor who is currently living in exile in Moscow.

Related: Putin slams Trump-Russia probe

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As an ex-KGB agent, you must have hated what Snowden did with every fiber of your being? Stone asks Putin through a translator in a clip from the show.

“Snowden is not a traitor,” Putin replies. “He didnt betray the interest of his country. Nor did he transfer any information to any other country which would have been pernicious to his own country or to his own people.

Still, the Russian president said he thought Snowden had other options.

I think he shouldnt have done it,” Putin said.

If he didnt like anything at his work, he should have simply resigned. But he went further. Thats his right. But since you are asking me whether it’s right or wrong, I think its wrong.

The four-part special from Stone will air a week after Putin’s much publicized interview withNBC’s Megyn Kelly and comes at a time when allegations continue to swirl that Russian intelligence meddled in the 2016 presidential election and possibly colluded with now-President Donald Trump.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to Oliver Stone for series called “The Putin Interviews.” Dmitri Lovetsky/Pool/Reuters

During the interview with Stone, Putin also defended the actions of his own intelligence services.

“Our intelligence services always conform to the law,” the Russian president said. “Thats the first thing. And secondly, trying to spy on your allies if you really consider them allies and not vassals is just indecent. Because it undermines trust. And it means that in the end it deals damage to your own national security.”

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Vladimir Putin on Edward Snowden’s NSA Leak: He Shouldn’t Have Done It – Newsweek

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‘He who is fated to be hanged won’t drown’: Vladimir Putin appears to confirm attempts to assassinate him – Telegraph.co.uk

Vladimir Putin has appearedto confirmduring an interview that he has survived multiple assassination attempts.

The Russian president made the comments in excerpts from a series of interviews with JFK director OliverStone,that will be aired later this month.

In previews of the interviews, released on Thursday evening, Mr Putin and Mr Stone discuss attitudes to death. Asked by Mr Stone about five alleged assassination attempts, Mr Putin said his security team look after him and that “up to now they haven’t done badly.”

“I trust them,” he added when asked if he feared assassins could infiltrate his security detail.

“You know what our people say: he who is fated to be hanged won’t drown,” he adds to Stone, who does not have an immediate answer.

Asked what his own fate would be, he said: “Only God knows our fate.”

In anothersegment, Mr Putin defended Edward Snowden, saying he waswas wrong to leak details US intelligence eavesdropping programs but is not a traitor to the United States.

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‘He who is fated to be hanged won’t drown’: Vladimir Putin appears to confirm attempts to assassinate him – Telegraph.co.uk

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‘Rights are lost by cowardly laws’: Snowden says govts, not terrorists, undercut free speech – RT

Whistleblower Edward Snowden offered an impassioned argument against terrorism being used as a pretext for introducing mass surveillance in a video-linked speech to a migration conference on Tuesday night.

Speaking to the Estoril conference on global migration in Portugal via video from Moscow, where he has lived for the past four years after being granted asylum by Russia in 2013, Snowden argued that terrorists do not possess the power to destroy peoples rights or weaken a societys strength. That only happens when those in a position of power use extremists as an excuse to create laws that encroach on peoples liberties, he said.

READ MORE: WikiLeaks staff are in danger: Pilger, Kiriakou discuss Assanges ongoing legal battle

Terrorists dont hate us for our freedom, they dont even know what our freedoms are… Terrorists are incapable of destroying our rights or diminishing our society they lack the strength only we can do that.

Rights are lost by cowardly laws that are passed in moments of panic. Rights are lost to the cringing complicity of leaders who fear the loss of their office more than the loss of our liberties.

Snowden argued that governments arent using mass surveillance tools to counter terrorism, rather they are being used to discover journalists sources, specifically journalists who have written stories that were embarrassing to the government.

READ MORE: Terrorist suspects should be locked up in internment camps, says ex-police chief

The whistleblower further argued that the best way to defeat terrorist ideologies is to allow them to get a full public airing. The way to discredit terrorist ideas is not by censoring them from public spaces these ideas are not attractive, these ideas grow best in the dark Drag it out onto the stage of the world, show people why it is wrong and why we can do better.

The former NSA contractor made a similar argument when answering a question from the floor which asked him to discuss recent comments from UK Prime Minister Theresa May which made the case for regulating the internet to combat terrorism.

Snowden noted that the Investigatory Powers Act which the UK parliament passed last year and which Snowden described as the most extreme surveillance law in the history of the western world was being justified as a means of rooting out terrorists.

READ MORE: UN slams Britains Big Brother anti-terrorism strategy

Snowden said he understood the impulse, but said that there is no public evidence that these policies are effective. On the contrary, there is clear evidence that they cause harm to the public, he said.

We have seen people fall on blacklists. We have seen, again and again throughout history, political parties be hamstrung, to face resistance, be silenced by governments because of their politics, their beliefs, their ideologies, which over time are always derived from what state security agencies say is a necessary effort to protect the nation.

Im not going to so far to say this is sort of an evil plan on behalf of the United Kingdom or any other nation, Snowden said. But we need to focus on one thing, the need for speech, access to free speech, free association, a free press, the ability to pick up a phone and be able to dial someone that you love without worrying about what that looks like in government database somewhere, how that will be reviewed 10 years from now when you get on a politicians bad side. This is the foundation of any free society.

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‘Rights are lost by cowardly laws’: Snowden says govts, not terrorists, undercut free speech – RT

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Japan close to ushering in new wave of mass surveillance, Snowden warns – The Japan Times

MOSCOW Edward Snowden, who exposed the existence of highly invasive U.S. surveillance programs in 2013, warned this week that Japan might be moving closer to achieving sweeping surveillance of ordinary citizens with a bill that gives the police highly invasive surveillance powers in the name of counterterrorism.

This is the beginning of a new wave of mass surveillance in Japan, the 33-year-old American said in an exclusive interview from his exile in Russia, referring to Japans conspiracy bill, which has stirred controversy at home and abroad as having the potential to undermine civil liberties.

The consequences could be even graver when combined with XKEYSCORE, a wide-reaching U.S. data collection tool that was exposed by the former National Security Agency contractor. Snowden also gave credence to the authenticity of new NSA papers exposed by The Intercept website earlier this year that showed the secretive spy agency has already shared the surveillance tool with Japan.

The warning from the intelligence expert is his latest regarding the Japanese governments effort to push the divisive conspiracy bill through the Diet. It criminalizes the planning of and the preparatory actions for 277 serious crimes.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in mid-May, a U.N. special rapporteur on the right to privacy stated that the conspiracy bill could lead to undue restrictions on privacy and freedom of expression because of its potential for widespread use and abuse a claim Abes government strongly denies.

Snowden said he agrees with the U.N.-appointed expert, Joseph Cannataci, because the bill is not well explained and raises concerns that the government may have intentions other than its stated goal of cracking down on terrorism and organized crime ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The conspiracy law, proposed by the government, focuses on terrorism and everything else that is not related to terrorism things like taking plants from the forestry reserve, he said. And the only real understandable answer (to the governments desire to pass the legislation) . . . is that this is a bill that authorizes the use of surveillance in new ways because now everyone can be a criminal.

Based on his experience of using XKEYSCORE, Snowden said the authorities will eventually be able to intercept everyones communications, including people who are organizing political movements or protests, and put them in a bucket.

The records would be simply pulled out of the bucket whenever necessary and the public would not be able to know whether the activities are being undertaken legally or secretly by the government because there are no sufficient legal safeguards in the bill, Snowden said.

Snowden finds the current situation in Japan reminiscent of what he went through in the United States after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

In passing the Patriot Act, which strengthened the U.S. governments investigative powers in the wake of the attacks, the U.S. government said similar things to what the Japanese government is saying now, such as these powers are not going to be targeted against ordinary citizens and were only interested in finding al-Qaida and terrorists, according to Snowden.

But within a few short years of the Patriot Act being enacted, the U.S. government was using the law secretly to collect the phone records of everyone in the United States, and everyone around the world who they could access through the largest phone companies in the United States, Snowden said, referring to the revelations made in 2013 from the top secret NSA documents he leaked.

Even though it sacrifices civil liberties, mass surveillance is ineffective, Snowden said. The U.S. governments privacy watchdog concluded in its 2014 report that the NSAs massive telephone records program showed minimal value in safeguarding America from terrorism and that it must be terminated.

Snowden said Japan should insert strong guarantees into the conspiracy bill to protect human rights and privacy and ensure those guarantees are not enforced through the words of politicians but through the actions of courts.

This means in advance of surveillance, in all cases the government should seek an individualized warrant, and individualized authorization that this surveillance is lawful and appropriate in relationship to the threat thats presented by the police, he said.

He also said allowing a government to get into the habit of collecting the communications of everyone through powerful surveillance tools could dangerously change the relationship between the public and the government to something resembling subject and ruler rather than a partnership, which is how it should be in a democracy.

Arguably, the Japanese public may not make much of what Snowden views as the rise of untargeted and indiscriminate mass surveillance, thinking everyday people have nothing to hide or to fear.

But he insists that privacy is not about something to hide but about protecting an open and free society where people can be different and have their own ideas.

Freedom of speech would not mean much if people didnt have the space to figure out what they want to say, or the room to share their views with others they trust so they can develop them before introducing them into the context of the world, he said.

When you say I dont care about privacy, because Ive nothing to hide, thats no different than saying you dont care about freedom of speech, because youve nothing to say, he added.

Snowden said toward the end of the more than 100-minute interview at a hotel in Moscow that living in exile is not a lifestyle that anyone chooses voluntarily. He hopes to return home while continuing to have active exchanges online with people in various countries.

The beautiful thing about today is that I can be in every corner of the world every night. I speak at U.S. universities every month. Its important to understand that I dont really live in Moscow. I live on the internet, he said.

Snowden showed no regrets about taking the risk of becoming a whistle-blower and being painted by his home country as a criminal or traitor, facing espionage charges at home for his historic document leak.

Its scary as hell, but its worth it. Because if we dont do it, if we see the truth of crimes or corruption in government, and we dont say something about it, were not just making the world worse for our children, were making the world worse for us, and were making ourselves worse, he said.

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Japan close to ushering in new wave of mass surveillance, Snowden warns – The Japan Times

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People Who Called Snowden a Traitor Shocked to Learn About All This Domestic Surveillance – Reason (blog)

Dennis Van Tine/UPI/NewscomThere’s this whole “Life comes at you fast” shtick that folks on Twitter use to point out people’s hypocrisy. Suddenly Democrats care about federalism when it comes to immigration law enforcement! Suddenly Republicans don’t care about federalism when it comes to immigration law enforcement! I try not to engage in the shtick too much, because it feels more like point-scoring than actual debate.

But I can’t help but bring it up right now. Yesterday, a story about federal surveillance abuses made the rounds in the conservative parts of Twitter I pay attention to, not the tech-security circles where I usually see such discussions.

The story, via a media outlet called Circa, documents a recently released report from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court). The report features examples of the FBI passing along private data it collected without warrants to people who should not be seeing it.

It’s an important story, and it’s great that it’s getting attention. But what it reveals is well-known to anybody who has been paying attention to the surveillance disclosures and FISA Court document releases that have slowly been surfacing since Edward Snowden started leaking. The federal government is accessing and spreading around more information about U.S. citizens than we realize. That’s what Snowden’s disclosures were about, right?

So here’s a March tweet from conservative TownHall.com contributor Kurt Schilchter calling Snowden a traitor:

Here’s an outraged Schlichter today, sharing a link to the Circa story:

I selected Schlichter because he’s pretty prominent (and isn’t going to be bothered by me pointing this out), but I’ve seen several tweets of the “Why isn’t the MSM covering this?” variety from other conservative tweeters, acting as though the press is giving former President Barack Obama cover for setting up a surveillance system that they now think is being used to attack President Donald Trump. The reality is that these surveillance problems do get reported to an American public that has largely, unfortunately, stopped paying much attention. (As a guy who has been covering surveillance for Reason for years, I can easily map out the decline in readership of these pieces, and I suspect other sites can as well.)

If you think the intelligence community and the deep state is abusing its powers to go after Trump and his allies for political reasons, guess what: This is exactly the consequence that Snowden himself warned of! A major criticism of the expansive surveillance state has always, always, been its potential for abusive snooping on citizens, whether it’s Black Lives Matter or a militia. The problem cuts across the political spectrum. Perhaps people shouldn’t have been so quick to call Snowden a traitor. Perhaps they could have spent more time thinking about the actual consequences of the powerful surveillance state, and maybe all those previously reported FISA Court disclosures that helped inform the very story they’re passing around now.

But regardless of how folks like Schlichter got here, welcome to the surveillance skeptic club! Now that you’re here, you should know that there’s a very important congressional vote coming up. Section 702 of the FISA authorizations sunsets this year, and Congress has to act. Right now, tech companies are lobbying for changes that would provide more oversight on the National Security Agency and limit the feds’ ability to collect information without warrants within in the U.S.

One problem: The White House has said that it doesn’t want any reforms to Section 702. They want to leave government’s surveillance powers as they are. If you’re a Trump supporter who believes that he’s being targeted by the intelligence community for political reasons, well, here’s a way to reduce the possibility that future Democratic administrations will behave the same way. Civil rights and privacy advocates want to see Section 702 either reformed or eliminated in order to protect Americans’ privacy. Consider joining the cause now that you’re more familiar with how this surveillance actually plays out domestically.

And maybe, just maybe, reconsider your views of Snowden’s whistleblowing.

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People Who Called Snowden a Traitor Shocked to Learn About All This Domestic Surveillance – Reason (blog)

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The Perils of Whistleblowing: My Interview With Edward Snowden – Entrepreneur

In 2013, Edward Snowdens life — and the world — changed forever. This former NSA contractor blew the whistle on the agencys practice of collecting private information and conducting mass surveillance on citizens when he brought evidence to the press and then left the country. In a video chat moderated by Secret Knock conference organizerGreg S. Reid, I was able to ask him a question directly. “Do you have any regrets?” I asked. My mission was never to change the world, he said.My mission was to return public information to public hands so you could determine whether things should change…. I regret only that I did not do more — sooner and bolder.” In part, Snowden hoped his actions would embolden others to step forward when they saw wrongdoing. While the majority of us will never be called on to report anything of comparable national or global scale, you may be one day called on to speak up. In a 2011 poll, 45 percent of American workers stated that they had observed wrongdoing in the workplace. Whether you’re a business owner or an employee, here are my suggestions, coupled with Snowden’s experience, on how to stop being a passive observer and become a safe whistleblower. Related:Why You Should EncourageWhistleblowingin Your Organization The line between a whistleblower and a leaker is fine and hotly debated. The general distinguishing mark tends to be the avenues taken to release information to the public. Whistleblowers are those who follow legally established procedures for exposing wrongdoing; they work within the system, reporting to the proper authorities so that matters can be handled internally. The leaker is one who bypasses the system altogether and goes directly to the press. The former is protected and guided by law; the latter is not. To this day, Snowden maintains he did everything he could to work within the system. I still made tremendous efforts to report these programs to co-workers, supervisors, and anyone with the proper clearance who would listen, he said in a 2014 live Q&A. The reactions of those I told about the scale of the constitutional violations ranged from deeply concerned to appalled, but no one was willing to risk their jobs, families, and possibly even freedom to go to through what [Thomas] Drake did. It was only after facing this internal resistance that he turned to journalists to help get his message out. Even then, he was careful. As a condition of access to archive, I required journalists to go to the government in advance and tell them what they were going to be writing so the government had a chance for rebuttal, he said. In every case, process has been followed. Related:Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Launches Investigation Into Sexual Harassment Claims For those who would follow Snowdens example, the single greatest obstacle is fear. Snowdens colleagues were intimidated by the example of Thomas Drake, former NSA executive who revealed unethical acts committed by the NSA and subsequently endured raids by the FBI and prolonged prosecution. Similar examples are often enough to deter any would-be whistleblower. The greatest threat to fear is knowledge. Take time to investigate whistleblower protection programs. Research and understand your rights. Identify those groups that can support you while working. Related:When the CEO Goes Bad, the Whole Company Needs a Fresh Look Protection aside, once youve blown the whistle, youre in for a rough ride. Snowden had no misunderstandings. Though he never intended to end up in Russia, he did expect to end up in a jumpsuit in Guantanamo Bay. He understood that calling attention would mean an end of his life as hed been living it. I realized I had to come forward, light a match, burn my life to the ground if this was really going to work. As Snowdens case has demonstrated, whistleblowing isnt as simple as identifying a problem and accepting a reward. Be ready for backlash from within and without your organization as you stand by your principles. Since 2009, retaliation has increased 83 percent, while whistleblowing incidents have only increased by 12 percent. If youre not willing to be called bad names, . . . you dont really believe in anything that much, he says. Being criticized is the price of admission for achieving change. The most common thing in the world of politics is that change is never comfortable. Intimidation isnt the only route that businesses and governments will take to silence whistleblowers. Many will offer hush money, effectively turning you from an opponent into an accomplice. Dont take that risk. Too many examples show when the coverup is revealed, both the company and the silenced party are worse off. On the one hand, hotlines are a powerful asset. Calls are made and recorded are proof the employee has performed their due diligence in reporting wrongdoing. On the other hand, the hotline is a conflict of interest on the companys part. In his book, The Whistleblowers Handbook, Stephen Kohn advises caution. Hotline programs are under no duty to help whistleblowers, Kohn writes. They are voluntary programs, and the nature and extent of their investigations are outside of the control of the employee. There is no requirement that these programs offer employees complete or accurate information about their legal rights. In other words, the programs exist for the benefit of the government/corporation; they are not legal service programs for whistleblowers. Related:Radical Inclusion: How Burning Man is Helping Create a New Breed of Entrepreneur When asked, Snowden said he only regrets how long it took him to come forward. I would do it again, he said. Despite everything that has happened to him, he believes firmly that the good in the world outweighs the bad. Investigation incited by Snowdens revelations revealed that the NSAs mass surveillance tactics had done nothing to stop terror attacks. Despite condemning Snowdens actions in his State of the Union address, President Obama called for reform within the NSA and Congress. None of that would have happened if Snowden hadnt taken the risk and come forward. Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D., is the CEO of Osmond Marketing. She enjoys reading business books, playing the violin and trying new restaurants with her husband and five children. Follow her at @amyocook.

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June 9, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Vladimir Putin reveals his views on women, gays and Edward Snowden – Zee News

London: Russian President Vladimir Putin does not have bad days because he is “not a woman”, and would rather not shower next to a gay man because he wouldn`t want to “provoke him”. The Russian President`s comments came in series of interviews with American film director Oliver Stone on topics ranging from geopolitics to gay rights and Edward Snowden. “The Putin Interviews”, a documentary comprised of conversations with the Russian president that took place between July 2015 and February 2017, show Putin musing on life and philosophy. “Do you ever have a bad day?” Putin was asked during a tour of the Throne Room, and he said, “I`m not a woman so I don`t have bad days.” He then doubles down on the misogyny, explaining that, “There are certain natural cycles which men probably have as well, just less manifested. We are all human beings. It`s normal. But you should never lose control,” the Guardian quotes Putin, as saying.On the question whether gays can serve in the military in Russia, Putin said, “If you`re taking a shower in a submarine with a man and you know he`s gay, do they have a problem with that? “Putin even denied that there was any persecution of gay people in Russia, despite a law being passed against the “propaganda of homosexuality among minors” and recent reports of a “gay purge” in the Russian republic of Chechnya. When asked whether he would be comfortable showering next to a gay man, he said no.”I prefer not to go to the shower with him. Why provoke him? But you know, I`m a judo master,” said Putin laughing.In the interview with Stone, Putin reveals that he once suggested to former U.S. president Bill Clinton that Russia may consider joining a Washington-led military alliance. Commenting on U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Russian President said, “Snowden is not a traitor. He did not betray the interests of his country. Nor did he transfer any information to any other country which would have been pernicious to his own country or to his own people. The only thing Snowden does, he does publicly.”Putin also appeared to change the story of how Snowden ended up in Moscow.”Our first contact with Snowden was in China. We were told back then that this was a person who wanted to fight against violations of human rights,” Putin said.At the time, however, Putin and other Russian officials gave the impression that the first Russia knew of Snowden was when he arrived in Moscow with the intention to transit to Latin America. “Snowden arrived in Moscow, which was completely unexpected for us. He came as a transit passenger, so he didn`t need a visa or other documents,” Putin said then.When asked if he was worried about assassination attempts, Putin said “They say those who are destined to be hanged are not going to drown. “Putin, an ex- KGB Foreign Intelligence Officer for 16 years, said “I remember one of our last meetings with President Clinton, when Clinton was still in office. He visited Moscow and during a discussion I said, `So, what if [we] consider an option of Russia maybe joining NATO. “While Clinton replied that he “didn`t mind,” the rest of the American delegation became visibly nervous, Putin recalled with a smile.Putin called NATO “an instrument of America`s foreign policy,” saying that the US-led alliance “has no allies, but only vassals. “According to the Russian leader, some member states find it hard to resist Washington`s pressure, and thus, “anything can be easily placed” on their territories, including both anti-missile and offensive systems. “And what are we supposed to do? Due to that, we have to take counter measures,” Putin told his American interviewer. Promoted as “the most detailed portrait of Putin ever granted to a Western interviewer,” it will feature interviews between the director and the Russian leader that were made during several encounters over two years.

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June 9, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

How Does Reality Winner Compare To Edward Snowden After …

A 25-year-old government contractor was arrested Tuesday after providing a top secret NSA document to the news website The Intercept, reports NBC News. The document is from May 5. The document is an analysis of Russian intelligence efforts to undermine the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It doesnt detail a direct link to any votes being changed, but does outline a concerted and deeper effort than previously known. The analysis describes a technique called spear phishing, where spoof e-mails invite user to click on links or open attachments that contain malicious software. The attacks targeted an election software company and 122 local election officials. Read:Edward Snowden Reacts To WikiLeaks’ Vault 7 Dump, Calls CIA Documents ‘Authentic’ This is in direct opposition to what Russian President Vladimir has claimed, saying that the Russian state has not been involved in any kind of hacking. The leaker, a government contractor named Reality Leigh Winner, was charged with gathering, transmitting or losing defense information in U.S. District Court in Georgia. The federal complaint accuses Winner of unlawfully transmit(ing) the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet. Winner worked for Pluribus International Corporation in Georgia. CNN reportedThursdaythat her mother said she had never praised past leakers such as Edward Snowden and wasnt particularly political. She also spent six months in the military. Winner had a top secret clearance for documents and faces up to 10 years in prison. The Snowden case differs from Winner in several key components. While we dont know if Winner took more than the one document, Snowden took thousands, at least seven thousand of which have been published, according to Business Insider. Snowden was also careful to leave his job as a contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii and flee to China before releasing the documents, putting him out of reach of authorities. Both are charged with violating the espionage act. Read:Why The US Wants To Arrest Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Founder, A Matter Jeff Sessions Called ‘A Priority’ Both leakers, however, are working with journalist Glenn Greenwald. The Intercept was founded in 2013 by Greenwald. Snowden worked with Greenwald while he was reporting for British newspaper The Guardian. Both leakers took information related to the NSA, but Snowdens had far greater reach and impact. President Donald Trump has been very vocal about his disdain for leakers, especially on Twitter. He often parlays news stories by going after leakers as the real story. Reality Winner poses in a photo posted to her Instagram account Photo: REUTERS

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June 7, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Edward Snowden: Prosecuting NSA Leaker Threatens The Free Press – HuffPost

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is speaking out in support of Reality Winner, who was arrested by the FBI onSaturday on charges of violating the Espionage Act. Winner, 25, a federal contractor with Pluribus International Corp. in Augusta, Georgia, is accused ofremoving classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The arrest came after The Intercept releaseda classified National Security Agency reportabout Russian military intelligence officers alleged attempt to carry out a cyberattack on a voting software company and on local election officials days before the 2016 U.S. election. Snowden can relate to Winners experience, as he was charged in 2013with stealing government property and violating the Espionage Act.The former Central Intelligence Agency employee and NSA contractor has been living under asylum in Russia ever since he fled the United States that year. Winner is currentlybeing held in a federal detention center in Lincolnton, Georgia. Her attorney Titus Nichols fears shes being questioned when hes not present. Reuters Snowden, who is president of the board for the Freedom of the Press Foundation, described the Espionage Act as a fundamental threat to the free press in a statement on Tuesday. He wrote that the World War I era law meant for spies explicitly forbids the jury from hearing why the defendant acted, and bars them from deciding whether the outcome was to the publics benefit. Snowden says thats especially chilling because Winner was allegedly a journalistic source for a leading American news outlet about a matter of critical public importance, and not a spy. This often-condemned law provides no space to distinguish the extraordinary disclosure of inappropriately classified information in the public interestwhistleblowing from the malicious disclosure of secrets to foreign governments by those motivated by a specific intent to harm to their countrymen. Snowden said that if America truly values free trials, Winner deserves to be released on bail. No matter ones opinions on the propriety of the charges against her, we should all agree Winner should be released on bail pending trial. Even if you take all the government allegations as true, its clear she is neither a threat to public safety nor a flight risk. To hold a citizen incommunicado and indefinitely while awaiting trial for the alleged crime of serving as a journalistic source should outrage us all.

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June 7, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Vladimir Putin on Edward Snowden’s NSA Leak: He Shouldn’t Have Done It – Newsweek

Russian President Vladimir Putinbelieves Edward Snowdens decisionto leaktop-secret information from the National Security Agency was wrong. Yet speaking in an interview with Oliver Stone for a series called The Putin Interviews,which airs onShowtime on June 12, the Russian president also defended Snowden, a former NSA contractor who is currently living in exile in Moscow. Related: Putin slams Trump-Russia probe Subscribe to Newsweek from $1 per week As an ex-KGB agent, you must have hated what Snowden did with every fiber of your being? Stone asks Putin through a translator in a clip from the show. “Snowden is not a traitor,” Putin replies. “He didnt betray the interest of his country. Nor did he transfer any information to any other country which would have been pernicious to his own country or to his own people. Still, the Russian president said he thought Snowden had other options. I think he shouldnt have done it,” Putin said. If he didnt like anything at his work, he should have simply resigned. But he went further. Thats his right. But since you are asking me whether it’s right or wrong, I think its wrong. The four-part special from Stone will air a week after Putin’s much publicized interview withNBC’s Megyn Kelly and comes at a time when allegations continue to swirl that Russian intelligence meddled in the 2016 presidential election and possibly colluded with now-President Donald Trump. Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to Oliver Stone for series called “The Putin Interviews.” Dmitri Lovetsky/Pool/Reuters During the interview with Stone, Putin also defended the actions of his own intelligence services. “Our intelligence services always conform to the law,” the Russian president said. “Thats the first thing. And secondly, trying to spy on your allies if you really consider them allies and not vassals is just indecent. Because it undermines trust. And it means that in the end it deals damage to your own national security.”

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June 7, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

‘He who is fated to be hanged won’t drown’: Vladimir Putin appears to confirm attempts to assassinate him – Telegraph.co.uk

Vladimir Putin has appearedto confirmduring an interview that he has survived multiple assassination attempts. The Russian president made the comments in excerpts from a series of interviews with JFK director OliverStone,that will be aired later this month. In previews of the interviews, released on Thursday evening, Mr Putin and Mr Stone discuss attitudes to death. Asked by Mr Stone about five alleged assassination attempts, Mr Putin said his security team look after him and that “up to now they haven’t done badly.” “I trust them,” he added when asked if he feared assassins could infiltrate his security detail. “You know what our people say: he who is fated to be hanged won’t drown,” he adds to Stone, who does not have an immediate answer. Asked what his own fate would be, he said: “Only God knows our fate.” In anothersegment, Mr Putin defended Edward Snowden, saying he waswas wrong to leak details US intelligence eavesdropping programs but is not a traitor to the United States.

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June 5, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

‘Rights are lost by cowardly laws’: Snowden says govts, not terrorists, undercut free speech – RT

Whistleblower Edward Snowden offered an impassioned argument against terrorism being used as a pretext for introducing mass surveillance in a video-linked speech to a migration conference on Tuesday night. Speaking to the Estoril conference on global migration in Portugal via video from Moscow, where he has lived for the past four years after being granted asylum by Russia in 2013, Snowden argued that terrorists do not possess the power to destroy peoples rights or weaken a societys strength. That only happens when those in a position of power use extremists as an excuse to create laws that encroach on peoples liberties, he said. READ MORE: WikiLeaks staff are in danger: Pilger, Kiriakou discuss Assanges ongoing legal battle Terrorists dont hate us for our freedom, they dont even know what our freedoms are… Terrorists are incapable of destroying our rights or diminishing our society they lack the strength only we can do that. Rights are lost by cowardly laws that are passed in moments of panic. Rights are lost to the cringing complicity of leaders who fear the loss of their office more than the loss of our liberties. Snowden argued that governments arent using mass surveillance tools to counter terrorism, rather they are being used to discover journalists sources, specifically journalists who have written stories that were embarrassing to the government. READ MORE: Terrorist suspects should be locked up in internment camps, says ex-police chief The whistleblower further argued that the best way to defeat terrorist ideologies is to allow them to get a full public airing. The way to discredit terrorist ideas is not by censoring them from public spaces these ideas are not attractive, these ideas grow best in the dark Drag it out onto the stage of the world, show people why it is wrong and why we can do better. The former NSA contractor made a similar argument when answering a question from the floor which asked him to discuss recent comments from UK Prime Minister Theresa May which made the case for regulating the internet to combat terrorism. Snowden noted that the Investigatory Powers Act which the UK parliament passed last year and which Snowden described as the most extreme surveillance law in the history of the western world was being justified as a means of rooting out terrorists. READ MORE: UN slams Britains Big Brother anti-terrorism strategy Snowden said he understood the impulse, but said that there is no public evidence that these policies are effective. On the contrary, there is clear evidence that they cause harm to the public, he said. We have seen people fall on blacklists. We have seen, again and again throughout history, political parties be hamstrung, to face resistance, be silenced by governments because of their politics, their beliefs, their ideologies, which over time are always derived from what state security agencies say is a necessary effort to protect the nation. Im not going to so far to say this is sort of an evil plan on behalf of the United Kingdom or any other nation, Snowden said. But we need to focus on one thing, the need for speech, access to free speech, free association, a free press, the ability to pick up a phone and be able to dial someone that you love without worrying about what that looks like in government database somewhere, how that will be reviewed 10 years from now when you get on a politicians bad side. This is the foundation of any free society.

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June 1, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Japan close to ushering in new wave of mass surveillance, Snowden warns – The Japan Times

MOSCOW Edward Snowden, who exposed the existence of highly invasive U.S. surveillance programs in 2013, warned this week that Japan might be moving closer to achieving sweeping surveillance of ordinary citizens with a bill that gives the police highly invasive surveillance powers in the name of counterterrorism. This is the beginning of a new wave of mass surveillance in Japan, the 33-year-old American said in an exclusive interview from his exile in Russia, referring to Japans conspiracy bill, which has stirred controversy at home and abroad as having the potential to undermine civil liberties. The consequences could be even graver when combined with XKEYSCORE, a wide-reaching U.S. data collection tool that was exposed by the former National Security Agency contractor. Snowden also gave credence to the authenticity of new NSA papers exposed by The Intercept website earlier this year that showed the secretive spy agency has already shared the surveillance tool with Japan. The warning from the intelligence expert is his latest regarding the Japanese governments effort to push the divisive conspiracy bill through the Diet. It criminalizes the planning of and the preparatory actions for 277 serious crimes. In an open letter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in mid-May, a U.N. special rapporteur on the right to privacy stated that the conspiracy bill could lead to undue restrictions on privacy and freedom of expression because of its potential for widespread use and abuse a claim Abes government strongly denies. Snowden said he agrees with the U.N.-appointed expert, Joseph Cannataci, because the bill is not well explained and raises concerns that the government may have intentions other than its stated goal of cracking down on terrorism and organized crime ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The conspiracy law, proposed by the government, focuses on terrorism and everything else that is not related to terrorism things like taking plants from the forestry reserve, he said. And the only real understandable answer (to the governments desire to pass the legislation) . . . is that this is a bill that authorizes the use of surveillance in new ways because now everyone can be a criminal. Based on his experience of using XKEYSCORE, Snowden said the authorities will eventually be able to intercept everyones communications, including people who are organizing political movements or protests, and put them in a bucket. The records would be simply pulled out of the bucket whenever necessary and the public would not be able to know whether the activities are being undertaken legally or secretly by the government because there are no sufficient legal safeguards in the bill, Snowden said. Snowden finds the current situation in Japan reminiscent of what he went through in the United States after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. In passing the Patriot Act, which strengthened the U.S. governments investigative powers in the wake of the attacks, the U.S. government said similar things to what the Japanese government is saying now, such as these powers are not going to be targeted against ordinary citizens and were only interested in finding al-Qaida and terrorists, according to Snowden. But within a few short years of the Patriot Act being enacted, the U.S. government was using the law secretly to collect the phone records of everyone in the United States, and everyone around the world who they could access through the largest phone companies in the United States, Snowden said, referring to the revelations made in 2013 from the top secret NSA documents he leaked. Even though it sacrifices civil liberties, mass surveillance is ineffective, Snowden said. The U.S. governments privacy watchdog concluded in its 2014 report that the NSAs massive telephone records program showed minimal value in safeguarding America from terrorism and that it must be terminated. Snowden said Japan should insert strong guarantees into the conspiracy bill to protect human rights and privacy and ensure those guarantees are not enforced through the words of politicians but through the actions of courts. This means in advance of surveillance, in all cases the government should seek an individualized warrant, and individualized authorization that this surveillance is lawful and appropriate in relationship to the threat thats presented by the police, he said. He also said allowing a government to get into the habit of collecting the communications of everyone through powerful surveillance tools could dangerously change the relationship between the public and the government to something resembling subject and ruler rather than a partnership, which is how it should be in a democracy. Arguably, the Japanese public may not make much of what Snowden views as the rise of untargeted and indiscriminate mass surveillance, thinking everyday people have nothing to hide or to fear. But he insists that privacy is not about something to hide but about protecting an open and free society where people can be different and have their own ideas. Freedom of speech would not mean much if people didnt have the space to figure out what they want to say, or the room to share their views with others they trust so they can develop them before introducing them into the context of the world, he said. When you say I dont care about privacy, because Ive nothing to hide, thats no different than saying you dont care about freedom of speech, because youve nothing to say, he added. Snowden said toward the end of the more than 100-minute interview at a hotel in Moscow that living in exile is not a lifestyle that anyone chooses voluntarily. He hopes to return home while continuing to have active exchanges online with people in various countries. The beautiful thing about today is that I can be in every corner of the world every night. I speak at U.S. universities every month. Its important to understand that I dont really live in Moscow. I live on the internet, he said. Snowden showed no regrets about taking the risk of becoming a whistle-blower and being painted by his home country as a criminal or traitor, facing espionage charges at home for his historic document leak. Its scary as hell, but its worth it. Because if we dont do it, if we see the truth of crimes or corruption in government, and we dont say something about it, were not just making the world worse for our children, were making the world worse for us, and were making ourselves worse, he said.

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June 1, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

People Who Called Snowden a Traitor Shocked to Learn About All This Domestic Surveillance – Reason (blog)

Dennis Van Tine/UPI/NewscomThere’s this whole “Life comes at you fast” shtick that folks on Twitter use to point out people’s hypocrisy. Suddenly Democrats care about federalism when it comes to immigration law enforcement! Suddenly Republicans don’t care about federalism when it comes to immigration law enforcement! I try not to engage in the shtick too much, because it feels more like point-scoring than actual debate. But I can’t help but bring it up right now. Yesterday, a story about federal surveillance abuses made the rounds in the conservative parts of Twitter I pay attention to, not the tech-security circles where I usually see such discussions. The story, via a media outlet called Circa, documents a recently released report from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court). The report features examples of the FBI passing along private data it collected without warrants to people who should not be seeing it. It’s an important story, and it’s great that it’s getting attention. But what it reveals is well-known to anybody who has been paying attention to the surveillance disclosures and FISA Court document releases that have slowly been surfacing since Edward Snowden started leaking. The federal government is accessing and spreading around more information about U.S. citizens than we realize. That’s what Snowden’s disclosures were about, right? So here’s a March tweet from conservative TownHall.com contributor Kurt Schilchter calling Snowden a traitor: Here’s an outraged Schlichter today, sharing a link to the Circa story: I selected Schlichter because he’s pretty prominent (and isn’t going to be bothered by me pointing this out), but I’ve seen several tweets of the “Why isn’t the MSM covering this?” variety from other conservative tweeters, acting as though the press is giving former President Barack Obama cover for setting up a surveillance system that they now think is being used to attack President Donald Trump. The reality is that these surveillance problems do get reported to an American public that has largely, unfortunately, stopped paying much attention. (As a guy who has been covering surveillance for Reason for years, I can easily map out the decline in readership of these pieces, and I suspect other sites can as well.) If you think the intelligence community and the deep state is abusing its powers to go after Trump and his allies for political reasons, guess what: This is exactly the consequence that Snowden himself warned of! A major criticism of the expansive surveillance state has always, always, been its potential for abusive snooping on citizens, whether it’s Black Lives Matter or a militia. The problem cuts across the political spectrum. Perhaps people shouldn’t have been so quick to call Snowden a traitor. Perhaps they could have spent more time thinking about the actual consequences of the powerful surveillance state, and maybe all those previously reported FISA Court disclosures that helped inform the very story they’re passing around now. But regardless of how folks like Schlichter got here, welcome to the surveillance skeptic club! Now that you’re here, you should know that there’s a very important congressional vote coming up. Section 702 of the FISA authorizations sunsets this year, and Congress has to act. Right now, tech companies are lobbying for changes that would provide more oversight on the National Security Agency and limit the feds’ ability to collect information without warrants within in the U.S. One problem: The White House has said that it doesn’t want any reforms to Section 702. They want to leave government’s surveillance powers as they are. If you’re a Trump supporter who believes that he’s being targeted by the intelligence community for political reasons, well, here’s a way to reduce the possibility that future Democratic administrations will behave the same way. Civil rights and privacy advocates want to see Section 702 either reformed or eliminated in order to protect Americans’ privacy. Consider joining the cause now that you’re more familiar with how this surveillance actually plays out domestically. And maybe, just maybe, reconsider your views of Snowden’s whistleblowing.

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May 28, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed


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