Through an “alternative Christmas message” broadcast on British television (“alternative” as in, a message other than the Queen’s official one) and a Washington Post interview, Edward Snowden reveals his immaturity, paranoia, irrationality and utter lack of perspective.
I can’t find an embed code for the full video, but here’s a link to it.
Here’s a sample of his “reasoning,” as he explains why he thinks we’re worse off than Winston Smith in 1984:
“The types of collection in the book — microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us — are nothing compared to what we have available today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go,” he said. “Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person.”
So… according to him… a cellphone, a private possession that you are in no way required to own, certainly not by the government, a thing you can throw away the moment you want to drop off the grid, is somehow worse than being watched and listened to 24 hours a day by a malevolent government that does so for the express purpose of controlling your thoughts, a government that has reshaped language itself to prevent you even from being able to form thoughts that are not to its liking.
But wait — there’s more:
Recently, we learned that our governments, working in concert, have created a system of worldwide mass surveillance, watching everything we do.
No, we have learned nothing of the kind. I have seen nothing from his “revelations” (although I give him props for not congratulating himself, but using the relatively passive “we learned”) that indicates that either this government or any other is doing anything at all that comes anywhere close to “watching everything” I do.
There’s apparently a record of phone calls I have made, and everyone else has made. Not the content, but who we called and when and for how long. A record that doesn’t even begin to be the tiniest, most hesitant intrusion on my privacy unless there is something about the pattern of my calls that draws attention to them. My own privacy is protected by the sheer volume of data of which my calls form an infinitesimal part.
I have no reason to believe that this or any other government has taken the slightest interest even in this tiny corner of my life — whom I have called and when — which is a drop in the ocean of “everything” I do.
This is rich. Let’s listen to some more:
A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought.
Really? Golly, I’d certainly like to see a little bit of evidence to back up those wild assertions. I’m even going to be charitable and ignore the number disagreement between his “a child” and his use of “they” and “themselves.” First, it would help if he had any evidence whatsoever, any reason at all to think that this hypothetical child would never know a “private moment.” I see zero reason to believe that. As for “no conception” — well, that takes us far beyond lacking the experience of even a “moment” of privacy. In fact, only in an Orwellian universe — given its careful paring of unacceptable thoughts from the language — could a child lack such a conception.
As for “an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought” — what reason do we have to believe that this child’s very thoughts would be recorded and analyzed, much less all of them? The only thoughts being shared with government, to my knowledge, are those we choose to make public through social media or other means. Or over the telephone, in which case the only way the goverment hears these thoughts is if its traffic analysis has produced probable cause for a specific subpoena to listen to a specific individual’s calls, which will never happen to far, far more than 99 percent of the population. And I say this on the basis of what Snowden himself has revealed.
Let’s delve further into the thoughts — which he is voluntarily sharing — of Edward Snowden:
And that’s a problem because privacy matters. Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.
I’m not going to respond to that, because I don’t even follow what he’s saying. I thought “who we are and who we want to be” were things that were determined by a combination of unavoidable circumstances and choices we make. Perhaps privacy plays a key role in that, but he neglects to explain how. It’s just one of those pronouncements that probably sounds profound to people who are predisposed to agree with him, and puzzles anyone else who actually thinks about it.
His big finish is a call to action:
End mass surveillance, and remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.
His tone indicates he thinks this is a real zinger.
I find myself marveling. So… that’s what he thinks NSA collection and analysis of metadata is about — finding out how we feel? What has he or anyone else disclosed that even comes within the same galaxy of indicating that? Gee, I kinda thought it was oriented toward finding out whether certain communications are happening between certain individuals, with an eye to catching warning signs not of feelings, but of the likelihood of certain actions.
I mean, seriously — can anyone show me a link to a single report that would make any reasonable person think that any of these government programs are aimed at taking our emotional temperatures, or our opinions?
Wow. The more you learn about this guy, the more you see just how twisted his perception of reality is…
But thanks, Edward, for the Christmas wishes. Although I must say, I think the Queen’s made more sense. But then, she’s a grownup.