If you haven’t heard of Edward Snowden, you probably haven’t been paying much attention. He definitely made the news a few years ago by exposing the extent to which the NSA was spying on American Citizens. His revelations really made American’s re-think online security and privacy. He recently wrote a book about his experience: “Permanent Record”.
When Snowden came out with his revelations, there were a lot of pundits on both sides. Some people were calling him a hero, others a traitor. Snowden himself put out a few statements, but I wanted to hear more about what he had to say. In that respect, the book did not disappoint.
A lot of the book is about Snowden’s background and his values, which ultimately led him to do what he did. You can almost get inside his head. It really helps to put some context around things. That’s just the background, then it goes on about his short-lived career in Intelligence and of course his eventual whistle-blowing and the consequences.The whole story helps you to understand what he was thinking and what his goals where.
This book also serves as a cautionary tale. It’s moral is that everything you do on the internet is being watched and recorded. I think most of us already knew that intellectually, but this book really makes it sink in emotionally. Seeing the big picture of how all these things fit together is very sobering. It really starts a debate that has been happening behind closed doors, but really should be happening out in the public square.
The ultimate questions the book raises are deep ones. Is mass surveillance really necessary? Is it actually making us safer? Should it be legal? If we do make it legal, what safeguards should we have? What does it mean to be a patriot or a traitor? You can’t talk about those terms without talking about loyalty. To who do we owe that loyalty – the American Government or the American people?
This is a debate we should all be having. Read the book and form your own opinions.