I’ve been following the Snowden revelations. And commentary by people like Bruce Schnier, as well as responses from the NSA and others on TED Talks. It’s a complex issue. If there was ever a time a US Agency succeeded in undermining the entire US economy before, I can’t think of it. But I think this time it will reach that far.
Because of that, Snowden is being vilified. He should never has spoken up, many say, and the damage he has done to the US and their reputation, and via that to their economy, is treason. Criminal treason.
He broke the law. I have no argument there. Anyone engaging in civil disobedience is acting against the law as a matter of conscience. Ed Snowden obviously cares a very great deal about what he did, and he is paying a very high price for those actions, but he feels they were worthwhile. They were not for personal gain. It was for a principle. A principle that said the US was honourable, at least to its own citizens.
I’ve not felt the US is all that honourable to *anyone* since the DMCA and the Patriot acts came in. The government acts almost entirely to facilitate special interests and powerful elite individuals and organizations. Not to make the land of unlimited opportunity it was founded on. The people who seized those opportunities don’t wish anyone else to threaten their successes. They don’t want the next generation succeeding them. Or beating them. But in all this turmoil, all these differing viewpoints, motivations, and possibilities, there is one question that I haven’t heard yet.
Who else besides Snowden? Snowden was a rare character with a social conscience that could see that this was morally wrong, and was against the law of the land he served and cherished. More importantly, it was against the spirit that his entire nation was founded on. That the government served the people.
So these programs have existed for a long time. They have known vectors, and methods. They have catalogued vulnerabilities. These things are extremely valuable, especially to foreign powers, and criminal powers. This is the backbone of information for major organizations. These vulnerabilities are the keys to the kingdom. The knowledge was a top secret weapon. But the holes in the infrastructure are in all the infrastructure. Including the US, Canada and all of the other allies of the US. That’s a really, really valuable thing, as long as the US believes that these vulnerabilities are still their own little secret ,and nobody else’s.
Snowden was one relatively minor actor in these organizations. He had a conscience. He served his conscience as he saw fit. But suppose any one of the thousands of others with knowledge of these programs was wronged or felt they deserved a better result from their own labours? Suppose they felt they could keep the US operating as they desired and not leak the information in good conscience, but instead sell it. Secretly. To a foreign power or criminal organizations. There are so many pieces they would only need a handful, and probably would profit immensely from each one. Who’s it gonna hurt? The NSA knows about the vulnerabilities, so it shouldn’t hurt them. And so what if a few US companies get caught in the crossfire. The NSA thinks that’s ok. The US Government thinks it’s ok if they do it. So spread the wealth a little.
How many of the foreign attacks we have seen have been through these intentionally introduced vulnerabilities? How many times have advantages been given to hostile powers, to those who would do harm to others with this power?
Snowden did us a favour. He gave us a shot at stopping all of it. And hopefully being wary of it happening again.
Who else gave away copies of the keys to the kingdom?
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