Whistleblower says ‘profound difference’ has occurred over past two years after leaking of NSA documents as public demands privacy.
A “profound difference” has occurred over the past two years, following the leaking of NSA documents that led to revelations about US surveillance on phone and internet communications, whistleblower Edward Snowden has said.
Writing in the New York Times, the computer analyst said that the balance of power is changing as a post-terror generation “turns away from reaction and fear in favour of resilience and reason”.
Snowden said that bulk data collection programmes had been declared illegal and disavowed by the US 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 criticised its disclosure has now ordered it terminated,” he said in the piece, also published in the French newspaper Liberation.
Snowden said the achievement was driven by “the power of an informed public” and added the end of the mass surveillance of private telephone calls under the US Patriot Act was a “landmark victory for the rights of each citizen”.
“Since 2013, institutions across Europe have declared laws and similar operations illegal and imposed new restrictions on such activities in the future. The UN has said that mass surveillance was clearly a violation of human rights.
“In Latin America, Brazilian citizens’ efforts have led to the adoption of the Marco Civil, the first declaration of the rights of the internet in the world. Recognising the essential role of an informed public in correcting excesses of government, the Council of Europe called for the adoption of new laws to prevent the persecution of whistleblowers.”
Progress had also been made towards improving the safety of devices used for communication, he added. “Basic technical protection safeguards such as encryption … are now enabled by default in the products of pioneering companies such as Apple, which ensures that even if your phone is stolen, your private life remains private.”
But Snowden warned that the right to privacy remains under threat, adding that “as you read this online, the United States government makes a note”.
“Some of the world’s most popular online services have been enlisted as partners in the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, and technology companies are being pressured by governments around the world to work against their customers rather than for them.
“Metadata revealing the personal associations and interests of ordinary internet users is still being intercepted and monitored on a scale unprecedented in history.”
The heads of the secret services in Australia, Canada and France have exploited the recent tragedies in order to try to get new intrusive powers, he added.
Snowden also pointed to British prime minister David Cameron’s recent comments to the National Security Council: “Do we want to allow a means of communication between the people we [the state] can not read?… For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.”
“At the turning of the millennium, few imagined that citizens of developed democracies would soon be required to defend the concept of an open society against their own leaders,” Snowden said.
Resource: The Guardian, June 05,2015