The recent release of a 41-slide PowerPoint by Edward Snowden, an intelligence contractor for the National Security Agency who has since been fired, shows that the U.S. federal government has not only been snooping on personal communications of foreigners (97 billion pieces of communications worldwide for just March 2013 according to the Guardian), but snooping on the personal communications of American citizens as well including 3 billion pieces of communications in March 2013. Further, the U.S. government has been storing this information, and its capacity to store and snoop are increasing every year. To make this worse, the Obama Administration has been in denial about its worldwide and domestic invasion of privacy, and U.S. politicians and social media companies are all taking cover and trying to blame someone else.
Invasion of privacy whether on this large scale or on a smaller scale amounts to an infringement of basic freedoms, because if you know that big brother is watching you, you may not say things you normally would, and thereby your freedom is reduced.
The danger of this large scale invasion of privacy is that foreigners and domestic citizens may be targeted for their political beliefs, and overtime people can be controlled by the authorities knowing what people think and what they do not think. In addition, information on citizens can be manipulated and taken out of context in order to control them and deny them their basic freedoms.
Edward Snowden says that "what the [(U.S.) National Security Agency] is doing" is "an existential threat to democracy."
Existentialism refers to individual free will and individual responsibility. So a government which reduces privacy and thereby freedom, would reduce individual free will and responsibility as well. A people-based democracy (as opposed to pseudo democracies) is based on the idea that "government is for the people, by the people, and of the people." Or the people (as opposed to anyone else including elected officials) are the sovereign authority over political affairs. Therefore, the secretive and domestic National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance is a threat to the essence of democracy, the people (or existential threat).
Edward Snowden says that "the [U.S.] government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to." In other words, the U.S. government has breached a people-based democracy, by turning on the people itself via large scale surveillance, and the potential for targeting of innocent citizens and suppressing freedom of speech and assembly.
Edward Snowden goes on to say that "I don't want to live in a world where there is no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity." Again Snowden refers to implications of large scale invasion of privacy on individuals freedoms. "My greatest fear from these disclosures", he says, "is that nothing will change... and it will lead to "turnkey tyranny".
Turnkey means a jailer, and tyranny means authoritarian rule based on injustice, arbitrariness, and cruelty. Turnkey tyranny refers to authoritarianism which utilizes imprisonment to control and oppress.
Snowden leak took the form of a 41-slide PowerPoint which he sent to the Guardian and Washington Post. Only 5 of those slides were published by those newspapers, which begs the questions as to why they did not publish all of the slides, and are these newspapers providing cover for the U.S. government?
The five slides which were published are as follows (the FDA cannot guarantee that they were not altered prior to being published):
|The Snowden slide #1 shows the major surveillance operating system used by the National Security Agency (NSA): PRISM/US-984XN|
|This Snowden slide #2 shows the U.S. social media corporations involved in the NSA surveillance, and the types of communications targeted.|
|The Snowden slide #3 shows the international scope of the NSA surveillance.|
|The Snowden slide #4 shows the growth of the NSA surveillance through U.S. social media companies.|
|The Snowden slide #5 shows the two basic surveillance methods: direct collection from U.S. social media companies and indirect collection through the transfer of communications on fiber cables and infrastructure.|
Mr. Stephen Garvey, Executive Director Foundation for Democratic Advancement