Bruce Schneier is a brand-name guy when it comes to computer security, cryptography, and the like. He’s written extensively on a number of these and related topics and has established himself as an important voice when it comes to the intersection of privacy and technology.
As you might expect, he has some strong opinions on the Edward Snowden whistle-blowing case.
Writing on his blog, Schneier explains that Snowden “broke the law by releasing classified information. This isn’t under debate…It’s written in plain English on the documents you have to sign when you get a security clearance, and it’s part of the culture. The law is there for a good reason, and secrecy has an important role in military defence.”
But should the information Snowden released have even been classified in the first place? Schneier elaborates:
“Keeping things secret from the people is a very dangerous practice in a democracy, and the government is permitted to do so only under very specific circumstances. Reading the documents leaked so far, I don’t see anything that needs to be kept secret.”
Surely the existence of a surveillance program such as Prism doesn’t need to be kept classified. Shouldn’t it be the information gathered by the program that’s kept under tight wraps? If Snowden had hypothetically leaked a public figure’s search history or details of private phone calls, surely that’s the greater wrong that confirming the existence of domestic spying technology.
We’re inclined to agree with Scheneier’s conclusion here:
“I believe that history will hail Snowden as a hero – his whistle-blowing exposed a surveillance state and a secrecy machine run amok. I’m less optimistic of how the present day will treat him, and hope that the debate right now is less about the man and more about the government he exposed.”
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