Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who took the lid off surveillance programs operated by American and other nations’ spying agencies and broken several laws in the process says he has only one regret. “I wish I had spoken sooner,” said Snowden in an AMA on Reddit a few hours ago. He was joined by journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, the two minds behind Citizenfour, a documentary starring Snowden which bagged an Oscar last night for best documentary. Also Read - UK's bulk interception powers revealed by Edward Snowden declared illegal
A fail to not come forward a little sooner is all Snowden regrets when he looks back at his past actions and the impact those revelations made to the world. “Had I come forward a little sooner, these programs would have been a little less entrenched, and those abusing them would have felt a little less familiar with and accustomed to the exercise of those powers,” said Snowden. “Once you grant the government some new power or authority, it becomes exponentially more difficult to roll it back,” he added. Also Read - NSA is getting rid of hundreds of millions of call and text records collected under Freedom Act
When asked how much impact has his revelations made to the world as we aren’t seeing much — the US Congress is yet to pass major reforms to the spy agency — Snowden said that some of them are happening behind the curtains. “[M]any of the changes that are happening are invisible because they’re happening at the engineering level,” he said. Also Read - Google's 'Chat' service a precious gift to cybercriminals: Amnesty
Snowden pointed out the security updates Google and Apple have rolled out to their mobile operating systems. Late last year, both the technology giants implemented highly sophisticated security measures to their mobile OSs (Android and iOS). Post the update, the companies themselves are incapable of retrieving one’s data even if they have been warranted with a court order.
When asked why he thinks Putin government isn’t spying on its people, what evidences do we have to believe his claims, this is what Snowden had to say, “to tag on to the Putin question: There’s not, and that’s part of the problem worldwide. We can’t just reform the laws in one country, wipe our hands, and call it a day. We have to ensure that our rights aren’t just being protected by letters on a sheet of paper somewhere, or those protections will evaporate the minute our communications get routed across a border. The only way to ensure the human rights of citizens around the world are being respected in the digital realm is to enforce them through systems and standards rather than policies and procedures.”
Reddit user LegalNerd1940 asked Greenwald about the most alarming revelation he discovered throughout this process, and if there are any more to come. “For me personally, the most shocking revelation was the overall one that the explicit goal of the NSA and its allies is captured by the slogan “collect it all” – meaning they want to convert the internet into a place of limitless, mass surveillance, which is another way of saying they literally want to eliminate privacy in the digital age,” said Greenwald.
Over the past two years, Snowden has been attributed to many names. Some find him a hero and patriot while others see him as a big villain. There are multiple allegations on Snowden that he is working with the Russian state security services. Snowden took the AMA opportunity to tell his side of the story.
“The answer is “of course not.” You’ll notice in all of these articles, the assertions ultimately come down to speculation and suspicion. None of them claim to have any actual proof, they’re just so damned sure I’m a Russian spy that it must be true. And I get that. I really do. I mean come on — I used to teach “cyber counterintelligence” (their term) at DIA.
But when you look at in aggregate, what sense does that make? If I were a Russian spy, why go to Hong Kong? It’s would have been an unacceptable risk. And further — why give any information to journalists at all, for that matter, much less so much and of such importance? Any intelligence value it would have to the Russians would be immediately compromised.
If I were a spy for the Russians, why the hell was I trapped in an airport for a month? I would have gotten a parade and a medal instead.
The reality is I spent so long in that damn airport because I wouldn’t play ball and nobody knew what to do with me. I refused to cooperate with Russian intelligence in any way (see my testimony to EU Parliament on this one if you’re interested), and that hasn’t changed.
At this point, I think the reason I get away with it is because of my public profile. What can they really do to me? If I show up with broken fingers, everybody will know what happened,” Snowden said.