Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden's 2nd Anniversary: Shutting Down Domestic Surveillance

Plenty more work to do toward reclaiming our lost liberties and protecting our privacy

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Edward Snowden
digitaltrends

Thanks to the whistleblowing of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden two years ago, the USA Freedom Act passed earlier this week reining in that agency's massive domestic surveillance program. The program collected the metadata of practically all of the telephone calls that Americans make to each other. Metadata tells the agency to whom, when, where, and for how long you talked on your telephone. While government officials scaremongered that the program was necessary to prevent terrorist attacks, they could point to not a single example how this program stopped any terrorist activity.

The American Civil Liberties Union is circulating a message from Snowden that makes these salient points …

… arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say. ….

Ending mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen. Yet while we have reformed this one program, many others remain.

We need to push back and challenge the lawmakers who defend these programs. We need to make it clear that a vote in favor of mass surveillance is a vote in favor of illegal and ineffective violations of the right to privacy for all Americans. …

We can't take the right to privacy for granted, just like we can't take the right to free speech for granted. We can't let these invasions of our rights stand.

The ACLU adds:

While USA Freedom Act is a start, no one should mistake it for comprehensive reform – it leaves many of the government's most intrusive surveillance powers untouched, and it leaves disclosure and transparency loopholes.

If you are concerned by unconstitutional domestic spying the ACLU helpfully includes a link that enables you to call the White House to urge further protections of your Fourth Amendment rights:

Take the next step: call the president's office and tell him to rein in Executive Order 12333. It's been used to collect info about millions of innocent people without any judicial oversight. It's time to bring the government's surveillance practices back in line with democratic values.

Also in today's New York Times Snowden celebrates the passage of the USA Freedom Act and a federal court judge's ruling that the NSA phone-tracking program was illegal. But he also points out that there is still plenty more work to do toward reclaiming our lost liberties and protecting our privacy. From the op-ed:

In a single month, the N.S.A.'s invasive call-tracking program was declared unlawful by the courts and disowned by Congress. After a White House-appointed oversight board investigation found that this program had not stopped a single terrorist attack, even the president who once defended its propriety and criticized its disclosure has now ordered it terminated.

This is the power of an informed public.

Ending the mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen, but it is only the latest product of a change in global awareness. …

Beyond the frontiers of law, progress has come even more quickly. Technologists have worked tirelessly to re-engineer the security of the devices that surround us, along with the language of the Internet itself. Secret flaws in critical infrastructure that had been exploited by governments to facilitate mass surveillance have been detected and corrected. Basic technical safeguards such as encryption — once considered esoteric and unnecessary — are now enabled by default in the products of pioneering companies like Apple, ensuring that even if your phone is stolen, your private life remains private. Such structural technological changes can ensure access to basic privacies beyond borders, insulating ordinary citizens from the arbitrary passage of anti-privacy laws, such as those now descending upon Russia.

Despite the recent progress, the minions of national security surveillance state push onward:

We have learned that our government intentionally weakens the fundamental security of the Internet with "back doors" that transform private lives into open books. Metadata revealing the personal associations and interests of ordinary Internet users is still being intercepted and monitored on a scale unprecedented in history: As you read this online, the United States government makes a note.

The whole op-ed is well worth your attention.

While Snowden is facing prosecution by the Obama Administration under the Espionage Act, the man who lied under oath to Congress about the NSA domestic surveillance program, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, still has his job and roams free.

Finally, let me say it again, Thank You Edward Snowden!

Disclosure: I am still a card-carrying member of the ACLU.

NEXT: A.M. Links: Chinese Hackers Suspected in U.S. Government Data Breach, Family of Alleged Dennis Hastert Sex Abuse Victim Speaks Out, Jeb Bush Prepares Official Campaign Launch

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  1. I would love LOVE LOVE some journalist to ask Obama, who is crowing about the USA Freedom Act, if he would like to thank the man responsible for the initial debate in the first place.

    1. Hitler?

    2. I’d settle for Rand Paul to thank Snowden instead of claiming he’d put him in a jail cell with James Clapper.

      1. You mean when he says:

        But I’ve sort of tongue-in-cheek said that if I had the choice, I’d put Clapper and Snowden in the same jail cell for about the same period of time. That’s not a serious question, but I think it’d be an interesting debate they might have about liberty versus security.

        [emphasis mine]

        Fucking Welch and his bullshit, clickbait headline. What kind of outfit is he running here? You’d never have seen this CNN-type bullshit when Postrel was in charge.

        1. Now everyone who read the headline but not the article will think he wants to throw Snowden in prison.

          Who’s fucking side are you on Matt?

          1. Only a few read past the headlines; of those few, an even smaller proportion actually read the entire article. Its a dangerous headline.

  2. I blame Bush.

  3. I come late to the comments and see no

    *SLAP*

    in the Friday Funnies. Really? REALLY, REASONOIDS?

    You are all dead to me. Which is great. Fuck you all.

  4. Also

    TRAITOR!!

    /every right wing hack

    1. My dad’s side of the family is solidly Democrat, and they all call him a traitor too. Statists gonna state.

    2. Also CRIMINAL! who should be locked up in a cage, per Rand Paul.

      1. ugh, read the article in addition to the headline you illiterate boob. Or even the comments here debunking another moron like yourself who didnt read the article and now believes Paul is really pro-NSA after all.

        1. Im sorry those debunking comments above came a few minutes after your post. My mistake.

          You remain a knuckle dragging cretin.

          Sincerely,

          Jay Dubya

        2. Or even the comments here debunking another moron like yourself who didnt read the article and now believes Paul is really pro-NSA after all.

          Same moron, actually.

  5. Somebody should start a whitehouse.gov We The People petition to put Snowden on the $20 bill.

    1. Only if he changes gender. So Chelsea Manning, maybe.

      1. They could put Snowden on the $5. Lincoln’s already got the penny.

  6. “Thanks to the whistleblowing of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden two years ago, the USA Freedom Act passed earlier this week reining in that agency’s massive domestic surveillance program.”

    Correction:Thanks to the whistleblowing of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, SCotUS was able to issue a ruling striking down the NSA’s overbroad interpretation of Section 215 of the PATRIOT act. That victory was short lived, however, as Congress immediately reauthorize the surveillance program under the deceptively restrictive USA FREEDOM act.

    Get it right ffs.

    I really can’t understand all the support for the USA 4TH AMENDMENT ANNIHILATION ACT. SCotUS had ruled, patriot was reigned in. All this bill did was give the hawks a new law to over reach which didn’t have the SCotUS ruling attached.

    No, I didn’t read the rest of the article. I read the first line and was so disgusted that I had to stop there.

    1. And now, having read the full article, It makes some good points. But ffs stop calling freedom act a victory. Outs not a victory, it’s a trap.

      USA FREEDOM act = syphilis. Feels great at the time, huge mistake in retrospect.

      1. PC: But Patriot Act = HIV. Nevertheless your point is taken.

        1. What point is that? Nothing said in PC’s comment is true. SCOTUS has not ruled on this; only a panel of the 2nd Circuit has. The constitutional issue is not even close to decided. It’s only currently the law of the land in the states covered by the 2nd Circuit. And even then, it’s likely been stayed pending appeal to en banc rehearing or review by SCOTUS.

      2. SCOTUS has not ruled on this program. A three judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. declared it unconstitutional. It may be heard en banc by the whole court, or it may be appealed to SCOTUS. It is currently being heard in two other Courts of Appeals as well. Again, it hasn’t been heard by SCOTUS. If it reaches the top court, they could do just about anything. The courts are anything but settled on this issue.

        1. DJK: I was noting that the Freedom Act is slightly less bad than the Patriot Act, but still bad. BTW do you think that passage of the Freedom Act will negate the Circuit Court’s ruling?

        2. Dammit, that’s twice. Not sure why I remembered that so badly, it’s been that kind of week for me.

          True, SCotUS has not reviewed Section 215. But that does not reduce the toxicity of the FREEDOM act. Snowdon’s leaks stripped away the “national security”shield that protected that section from judicial review. The new law pulls the rug out from under SCotUS. With 215 expired, they will refuse to hear the case. The spying will continue unhindered under FREEDOM act, albeit under a new procedure.

          215 may have been horrible, but we could address it. FREEDOM might be slightly better, but its closed to any review process. To me, that’s a lot worse.

        3. DJK, Circuit Court didn’t rule it unconstitutional, just that it wasn’t authorized by the Patriot Act. It overstepped what was allowed in Section 215, as written.

  7. If privacy was used to grant abortions via Roe V Wade, then leave my phone records alone, butt checks!

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  9. Snowden’s crime was to give the government’s dirty secrets to the American people. I consider it a useful litmus test to note which politicians vilify him as a traitor, because to me it means that politician considers the American people to be the enemy.

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  16. Edward Snowden may return to the United States politically “free sovereign and independent” by stating a claim, in any venue, with the correct political character and status. Political character and status is discussed at the following website, http://www.freesovereignandindependent.com

    Please go to page 2 for the document, EXTREMELY DANGEROUS POLITICAL INFORMATION.

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