We've already seen shifts happening in some of the big companies - Google, Apple - that now understand how vulnerable their customer data is, and that if it's vulnerable, then their business is, too, and so you see a beefing up of encryption technologies. At the same time, no programs have been dismantled at the governmental level, despite international pressure.
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I was in correspondence with an anonymous source for about five months and in the process of developing a dialogue you build ideas, of course, about who that person might be. My idea was that he was in his late forties, early fifties. I figured he must be Internet generation because he was super tech-savvy, but I thought that, given the level of access and information he was able to discuss, he had to be older.
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Certainly, when it comes to my profession as a journalist, that allows the government to trace what you're reporting, who you're talking to, and where you've been. So no matter whether or not I have a commitment to protect my sources, the government may still have information that might allow them to identify whom I'm talking to.
We don't stand here alone, it's possible through the great organisations that support us. The disclosures that Edward Snowden revealed aren't only a threat to privacy but to democracy, when the most important decisions made affect all of us. Thank you to Edward Snowden. I share this with Glenn Greenwald and other journalists who are exposing truth.
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From a personal perspective, because I'm on a watchlist and went through years of trying to find out why, of having the government refuse to confirm or deny the very existence of such a list, it's so meaningful to have its existence brought into the open so that the public knows there is a watchlist, and so that the courts can now address the legality of it. I mean, the person who revealed this has done a huge public service and I'm personally thankful.
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Snowden has presented us with choices on how we want to move forward into the future. We're at a crossroads and we still don't quite know which path we're going to take. Without Snowden, just about everyone would still be in the dark about the amount of information the government is collecting. I think that Snowden has changed consciousness about the dangers of surveillance.
I think one of the most shocking things is how little our elected officials knew about what the NSA was doing. Congress is learning from the reporting and that's staggering. Snowden and [former NSA employee] William Binney, who's also in the film as a whistleblower from a different generation, are technical people who understand the dangers.
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Just consider the CIA and its effort to suppress the Senate's review of its torture program. Take in the fact that we live in a country that a) legalized torture and b) where no one was ever held to account for it, and now the government's internal look at what happened is being suppressed by the CIA. That's a frightening landscape to be in.
There are people who are always going to try to engage in activity that is illegal and they're going to try to subvert surveillance. But everybody should not give up their liberties and rights to privacy because some people are going to [do that]. We shouldn't stop or limit our basic liberties because some people are going to engage in criminal activities.
So my first experience was that I had to do a reboot of my expectations. Like fantastic, great, he's young and charismatic and I was like wow, this is so disorienting, I have to reboot. In retrospect, I can see that it's really powerful that somebody [Snowden] so smart, so young, and with so much to lose risked so much.
The most striking thing Snowden has revealed is the depth of what the NSA and the Five Eyes countries [Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain, and the US] are doing, their hunger for all data, for total bulk dragnet surveillance where they try to collect all communications and do it all sorts of different ways. Their ethos is "collect it all."
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