This Christmas, Edward Snowden Wants the World to Rediscover the Gift of Privacy

England’s Channel 4 offers up an alternative to the Queen’s Christmas message every December. This year, the channel passed along a message from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, recorded in Russia:

An important section for those who can’t watch the video:

“A child born today will grow up with no expectation of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves – an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought. And that’s important because privacy matters. Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be. The conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it. Together we can find a better balance, end mass surveillance, and remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.”

A couple of thoughts come to mind listening to this:

  • There needs to be more work making a better case for privacy. It’s excellent that a millennial like Snowden has become the face of this fight, given that his generation has become famous for sharing everything it does online. Don’t treat this as a criticism of social media – in general, being able to share so much more of our lives across great distances has made communicating so much easier and effective. But Snowden’s statement about why privacy matters lacks punch. It feels unfinished. How does government data collection affect our ability to determine who we are and who we want to be?
  • There is still little or no significant cultural push beyond the strongest privacy and security advocates or activists for any sort of consequences for this systemic, entrenched breach of the public trust. The chorus calling for consequences (either termination or prosecution – or both) for Director of National Intelligence head James Clapper for lying to Congress under oath about the extent of the federal collection of Americans’ data is still small. The National Security Agency still feels comfortable appearing on 60 Minutes to mislead the public about what it is doing. And the media obviously doesn’t feel enough public pressure yet to resist allowing surveillance supporters from invoking terrorism threats an 9/11 as a defense, despite the lack of evidence this data collection has helped at all.

Will privacy become an election issue in 2014 or will Obamacare overwhelm all arguments? Do we have to wait for the next presidential election to really have this fight? (Or will there even be an actual fight?)

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • BigT||

    There is a mountain of pent-up outrage, just waiting for the politically correct moment to flood the world.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Every word out of this man's mouth oozes a traitorous syrup that covers and locks in un-American amber the good works of patriotic men like Peter King or Dianne Feinstein.

  • Mainer2||

    The morning conservative dj here in southern New Hampshire keeps mentioning Peter King as a potential candidate. He's visited NH, you know...he's a contender...no mention of WHY King deserves support, just horse race politics.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Peter King will never be president. Get that out of your system early, GOP.

  • Mainer2||

    This dj also suck cop cock, too. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised he has nothing bad to say about King.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "Will no one rid us of this troublesome fanatic?"

  • BakedPenguin||

    I was wondering what happened to the Snowdens of yesteryear.

  • Dave Krueger||

    Will privacy become an election issue in 2014 or will Obamacare overwhelm all arguments?

    I will probably be neither. There will probably be another all-consuming story similar to the Duck Dynasty controversy that will push election issues completely out of the public consciousness.

    Politics has become too complicated for people to participate beyond identifying with one of the two political parties. Once they pick a party, usually the party of their parents, they believe they have essentially satisfied the bulk of their civic responsibilities.

  • Response||

    The issue with metadata is not who owns the data itself, but who has rights to the analysis of that data. It amounts to digital stalking.

    For example, let's say you walk along the streets of your neighborhood - no big deal. And you come across a neighbor and say hello and keep going - no big deal. Let's say their is a busybody neighbor who is constantly looking out through their window and monitoring whoever walks by - kind of annoying, but overall no big deal. Now you have someone who you don't really know (who has the ability to kidnap you) who walks up to every busybody in the neighborhood and starts asking about you and where you have been - kind of creepy and potentially illegal in this setting.

    So in the scenario above, you are you. Your neighbor is someone you communicate with digitally. Your phone company is the busybody. And the government is the stalker.

  • Marianna||

    I think it depends on who is willing to keep the topic alive i.e. (Rand Paul, Justin Amash etc) and what platforms they use.

    Snowden's defense of privacy could have been better, but the guy has done more heavy lifting in one year than most of us will do in our lifetime, so I'll cut him some slack.

    Also a major studio film on Snowden is inevitable which could also keep the topic alive or revive it; I just hope they choose someone hot to play him.

  • ACarmack||

    The gift of privacy would be nice. Also would be nice if swat teams weren't used to handle non-violent crimes
    http://dhnnews.com/more-americ.....-iraq-war/

  • optimusratiostultum||

    Thank God for Edward Snowden and fuck anyone who is more concerned about his possible treason than the overwhelming power of the state.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement