This Christmas, Edward Snowden Wants the World to Rediscover the Gift of Privacy

England’s Channel 4 offers up an alternative to the Queen’s
Christmas message every December. This year, the channel passed
along a message from National Security Agency whistleblower

Edward Snowden
, recorded in Russia:

An important section for those who can’t watch the video:

“A child born today will grow up with no expectation of privacy
at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment
to themselves – an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought. And that’s
important because privacy matters. Privacy is what allows us to
determine who we are and who we want to be. The conversation
occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place
both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that
regulates it. Together we can find a better balance, end mass
surveillance, and remind the government that if it really wants to
know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.”

A couple of thoughts come to mind listening to this:

  • There needs to be more work making a better case for privacy.
    It’s excellent that a millennial like Snowden has become the face
    of this fight, given that his generation has become famous for
    sharing everything it does online. Don’t treat this as a criticism
    of social media – in general, being able to share so much more of
    our lives across great distances has made communicating so much
    easier and effective. But Snowden’s statement about why privacy
    matters lacks punch. It feels unfinished. How does government data
    collection affect our ability to determine who we are and who we
    want to be?
  • There is still little or no significant cultural push beyond
    the strongest privacy and security advocates or activists for any
    sort of consequences for this systemic, entrenched breach of the
    public trust. The
    calling for consequences (either termination or
    prosecution – or both) for Director of National Intelligence head
    James Clapper for lying to Congress under oath about the extent of
    the federal collection of Americans’ data is still small. The
    National Security Agency still feels comfortable appearing on
    60 Minutes to
    the public about what it is doing. And the media
    obviously doesn’t feel enough public pressure yet to resist
    allowing surveillance supporters from invoking terrorism threats an
    9/11 as a
    , despite the lack of evidence this data collection has
    helped at all.

Will privacy become an election issue in 2014 or will Obamacare
overwhelm all arguments? Do we have to wait for the next
presidential election to really have this fight? (Or will there
even be an actual fight?)

from Hit & Run

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