Three Questions About Russia Everyone Should #AskSnowden

Edward snowdenREUTERS/Tobias SchwarzThe Reichstag building, seat of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag, is pictured though a flag depicting fugitive former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, during a demonstration in Berlin November 18, 2013.

While many folks rush to thank fugitive leaker Edward Snowden for “starting a conversation” around surveillance, they seem to forget that the U.S. isn’t the only state which keeps an eye on people.

This is relevant because Snowden’s message is one which calls for an end to global surveillance, while his revelations seem to specifically target just the U.S. national security apparatus.

Snowden has admitted he’s adept at counterintelligence measures to keep the Russians and Chinese from hacking into his stolen secrets, which suggests that he knows of (and most likely stole hard evidence of) the tactics, techniques and procedures employed by some of the most invasive nations on the planet.

Snowden took part in a live Q&A chat, run by the Courage Foundation, on Thursday afternoon. He fielded all kinds of questions from a dedicated #AskSnowden Twitter stream.

User LibertyLynx — an outspoken critic of Russian intelligence, as well as the Snowden narrative — fired out three very telling quetions. They point to a side of Snowden’s generous debate that rarely gets debated, with ominous implications.

SORM is essentially Russia’s version of the NSA’s Internet and Telephone monitoring program, the same one they plan on using on everyone at Sochi.

Here’s how investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov describes SORM (in a pretty awesome post that’s worth reading):

This looming fortress, built in the 1980s as the KGB’s IT Center, forms a part of a row of buildings, known as the Lubyanka, where thousands of dissidents were imprisoned and interrogated back in the days of the feared Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin’s hated spymaster. Initially the Center was responsible for protecting computer networks and tracking down hackers, but in the late 2000s, it was tasked with monitoring social networks and the Internet as a whole.

Next question:

Dead whistleblowers. Dead activists. Dead journalists (while we’re at it, here’s a list). Often tied not so neatly to Moscow proper.

Next we have:

Ah yes, and finally we have that fine old public/private partnership, not unlike the one that landed American tech in hot water and keeps Chinese firms like Huawei in global limbo.

Kaspersky’s helping hand to Moscow is well documented.

Now before this becomes a lament that everyone spies and so everyone else should just deal with it, I should say that people ought to make their governments answer for invasive surveillance (domestic or otherwise) programs.

The government ought to answer questions about its programs, demonstrate their efficacy, or else get rid of them.

Just as Snowden ought to answer questions about his narrative, demonstrate the efficacy of his motive, or else revise his statements.

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