On 6th June 2013 Edward Snowdens revelations about electronic mass-surveillance have been published – and have changed the world. Both the person Snowden as well as his revelations were already in 2013 highly controversial and are still today.
Why Edward Snowden is a hero for me
To me personally Snowden, as well as other important "whistleblowers" (informants), as Bradley (or Chelsea) Manning and Julian Assange (Wikileaks), is a hero. With his absolute willingness advocating for civil-rights and for freedom he has changed the world for the better.
But for that he has to pay a high price, can currently not return to his home-country USA because he has to assume a high sentence there and therefore he has to live in the Russian asylum. There however her seems to be quite fine.
That the US-American NSA with "PRISM" and its British counterpart GCHQ with "Tempora" – in conjunction primarily with US IT-companies and many Western States – monitor the global (!) data-traffic before Snowdens revelations has been deemed as conspiracy-theory. And mostly as "crude, right-wing" conspiracy-theory.
Important consequences of Snowden's revelations
Since then a lot has changed and most of it for the better:
- After anonymous search-engine such as Ixquick or Duckduckgo already in 2012 (according to Google's aggravation of it's data policy) had seen a little "boom", as from mid-2013 their user-figures further spiralled up.
- Countries outside the Western-block have waken up about the risks being surveilled by USA & Co and undertake great efforts to become as independent of Western hardware and software as possible.
Especially Russia pursues ambitious, own projects in almost all areas of IT: Linux-distribution of its own, processor of its own, smartphone operating-system of its own (including suitable apps).
- Authorities and politicians have come under enormous pressure, because they are suspected having conducted or at the very least tolerated mass-surveillance. Most of all cornered by surveillance-revelations has been the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her political appendix. She is not only blamed for having promised a no-spy-agreement with the USA against her better judgement, she is also suspected of connivance for German BNDs (German federal intelligence) transmission of data to the USA.
- The most recent, very positive development is the replacement of the very restrictive surveillance-law "Patriot Act" by the – at least for US citizens – significantly alleviated "Freedom Act".
Despite persistent efforts of hard-liners to continue the monitoring of the mass – not least because of Edward Snowdens commitment – responsible forces have achieved a victory and have made at least 1 step into the right direction.
- Also the film "Citizenfour", that primarily shows the crucial interviews from Edward Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel-room with Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and other about the US surveillance-activities, has found broad appreciation.
Citizenfour has been awarded an Oscar as best documentary movie 2015.
Further opportunities & risks for freedom
Despite all the positive developments, there are still big threats and strong establishment-forces, who want to continue the curtailing of freedom – in terms of information-technology and beyond.
The failure of Patriot-Acts extension was scarce. And the establishment's propagandists see coming the "end of civilization" without mass-surveillance.
And they will reach some people, but more and more people see their personal freedom more and more restricted as the mainstream-media's credibility. A lot of credit they have already lost with their highly unilateral, Russia-hostile media-coverage of Ukraine.
But exactly this is an opportunity for alternative-media, that are persistently increasing their popularity.
And that among other things with Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul two outspoken objectors of surveillance are seeking candidacy for US-Presidency, is pleasing anyway, too.
Unfortunately there are also people, especially from the political left spectrum (at least in Europe), that undermine the united front of all, forces fighting against mass-surveillance and for civil-rights.
Thank you Edward Snowden!
We can only do justice to his sacrifice when we actively participate on the political-level, as well as we change our personal habits.
So, we should elect only such parties and candidates, that are advocating civil-rights.
And instead of using commercial IT-services we should use privacy-search-engines and in general open-source systems.