It’s been quite the week for security, with leaks out of the NSA dominating much of the global headlines. Last week, through US-based The Washington Post and the UK-based The Guardian, a whistleblower exposed a secret program that the NSA had founded in 2008, called “PRISM”. According to screenshots, PRISM looks to be a system where leading data hoarders, such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and so on, would collect and retain numerous bits of data about US citizens, ready to be turned over to the government if requested.
Each of the companies involved in this paperwork have come forward to state that they would never hand over data without a court order, and as far as that goes, I suppose that’s a little reassuring. But when the requester is the US government, and the matter has to do with national security, it’s easy to assume that the information wouldn’t remain in the companies’ grasps for too long.
NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden
If you were the one responsible for leaking information about PRISM, would you come forward to admit it? I sure don’t think I would. I’d just live life being scared constantly. Apparently Edward Snowden sees things differently, as he’s opted to out himself rather than be sought out quietly, probably without a chance to tell his side of the story.
Snowden arrived in Hong Kong before this all blew up, preferring to get out of the country while he still had a chance. Assuring his safe departure, he didn’t even warn his family or friends. He’s currently “holed up” in a hotel, preparing for the “expected fallout”.
While the US has an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, there are some exceptions regarding “politically motivated” requests, so it remains to be seen if Snowden will be safe there. In his mind, he’s not, “If they want to get you, over time they will.“
His reason for coming forward isn’t because he wants to be seen as a hero, but rather, “I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no privacy, and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity.“
Last week’s leaks were interesting, but with the whistleblower out in the open, the next week could be even more so.