Exactly one year ago today, we saw the very first of the Snowden leaks. One year later, the world has changed a lot – for the better. In a recent talk I gave, I called the past year “Year 1 A.S. – After Snowden.” The Snowden revelations are that important to the digital world.
Before Snowden, the world was simpler. There was a certain innocence we hadn’t lost yet. People weren’t thinking much about things like where their data is stored. People were happily using services without much thought as to what country hosted it. Since Snowden, we’ve lost that innocence. We’re now much more aware of the privacy implications of the Internet services we use, and how where they’re from affects our own privacy. We’re now aware that whatever we do online is being tracked and followed.
That awareness is a very good thing. We should be having this conversation. We should be talking about privacy, security, the capabilities of technology, how it should be used, and the role of governments and corporations. The issues are complex. There are no easy answers.
Is Snowden a traitor, or a patriot to his country? The Americans can decide, and I hope they decide in his favor. Yes, he broke the trust of his employer and his NDA. But in the end he did the right thing.
Snowden could have put his head in the sand and continued to receive his very nice paycheck, or he could have simply walked away silently. But he didn’t. What he did do, was risk everything to give us a great gift: the opportunity to have this debate on the world stage. Without him we wouldn’t have been pushed to face these important and defining questions.
Are you fed up with mass surveillance? With having your digital privacy violated? Then make yourself a part of the conversation. F-Secure is giving you the chance to make your voice heard today. Share your thoughts and ideas in our #digitalfreedom manifesto. It’s a crowdsourced document that will be used to help advance digital freedom in the world. Join together with everyone who cares about digital freedom and privacy to make a difference. The manifesto is licensed under creative commons. It’s open for contributions until June 30. You can contribute here.
I hope we see more Snowdens from other world powers. Other countries are doing similar surveillance too, we just don’t have concrete evidence about it yet. But I’m glad there are people out there who have the integrity and the ideals to stand up against what’s wrong, no matter the cost.
And that’s why Edward Snowden gives me hope.
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