One year ago today, the Guardian printed the first of many reports on the U.S. government’s mass spying activities based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Two very different events will mark the occasion.
The first, reported earlier here, is the campaign to Reset the Net. Part of a global movement to reclaim individual privacy and secure the Internet against government surveillance, the group wants everybody — really, everybody — to adopt end-to-end encryption tools.
It won’t work unless substantial numbers opt in. The point is not to stop the NSA from collecting information on lawful targets, but to make mass, warrantless, thoughtless and out-of-control dragnets more difficult, unreliable and expensive.
Which brings us to the second event.
Although it may not happen today, expect the U.S. Senate to mark the Snowden anniversary very soon by passing the Orwellian “U.S. Freedom Act.” Originally the bill was drafted to stop the bulk collection of phone records. It is still being sold as a reform bill (that “does not go far enough”), even though as it now stands, the Act does not stop the phone dragnet and, in at least four major ways, it strengthens the mass surveillance regime already in place.
The transformation of the U.S. Freedom Act from reform to reload came about after heavy lobbying from the Obama White House. Despite letters, phone calls and meetings with tech execs worried about their bottom line (what else?), Republicans and Democrats, Tea Partiers and Progressives, stood arm-in-arm in the House of Representatives to defend the Panopticon and extend its reach.
The techsters are not happy. In part because Obama’s ham-handed attempt to divert the focus to China provoked a backlash which has damaged American business already and has the potential to make matters worse. In part because of the “technology trust deficit” the Panopticon has engendered.
In a recent interview Marc Andreesen expressed dismay at DC’s failure to listen to SV. He aimed his bile mainly at the White House, complaining that all the time spent complaining to Obama produced zilch.
Zilch? Worse than zilch. Which is probably why Reset the Net says:
“Don’t Ask for Your Privacy. Take it Back.”