I had planned to wait to post about Edward Snowden, because my feelings about him and what he exposed are too strong at the moment. I don’t want to talk rationally. I want to scream: not at Snowden, but at my own government. Even more, I want to scream at a rather large number of lazy, disinterested, scared, cowardly U.S. citizens who tacitly approved while the government of the United States created an intolerable mass surveillance apparatus and regimen in the (former?) “land of the free”.
But I’m also ashamed. I “knew” about Prizm, although I had nothing I could have testified about in court and had not heard that name. I also suspected something like the vast land-grab against telephone companies that the UK Guardian exposed last week. Most people who work in Silicon Valley in any field that involves networking or security can say the same. Geeks are good at putting together a picture from seemingly unrelated bits of evidence, and the evidence that the U.S. government was engaged in massive, wide-spread surveillance and spying against its own citizens kept appearing in the courts and the news. Information about FISA rulings kept leaking despite the penalties against companies that revealed these “warrants”. A few of us objected, but the numbers who did should have been massively larger, and we should have shouted instead of whispering. I apologize. :(
Twitter is (perhaps) the only large ISP or networking company in the United States that has nothing to apologize for. Twitter flatly refused to cooperate with Prizm beyond the letter of the law, and made public every bit of information that they could without violating the law.
Unfortunately most of the high tech, networking, and security communities dropped the ball. We should have been screaming in public about what was happening even if the result was prosecution by a government that has apparently forgotten what this country is supposed to be about. I don’t believe that the law is meaningless, but it *IS* at best an approximation of justice/the right thing/whatever you want call it. The laws of any country are human constructs. The law can be wrong. Laws that forbid an individual or company to protest a government order or even reveal its existence are WRONG. They lead to tyranny. We’re not there yet in America, but we’re entirely too far down that road for any reasonable person to feel in the least comforted.
I identify with Edward Snowden. I understand why he did what he did. I get him. I can’t be certain that I would have done the same thing if I’d been in his situation, but I think I probably would have. And listening to the
ASSHOLES news agencies and media pundits, and the TIN-POT TYRANTS government representatives such as Attorney General Eric Holder, Senator Diane Feinstein, and House Majority leader John Boehner (among others) condemn him and call him a traitor for doing something so utterly right and so obviously against his own best interests has hit my funnybone.
Listen, jerks. You’re talking about me here. You’re talking about every American who still retains a belief in a country that respects freedom and human rights. If you have any sense of shame at all, it’s time to shut up and listen.