On 6 June 2013, the Guardian broke the news National Security Agency (NSA) had ordered Verizon to provide it with the phone records of its customers. As the story developed it became clear that the two other major telephone networks as well as credit card companies were doing the same thing; and that the NSA and FBI were being provided with access to server systems operated by Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft and Skype.
On 11 June the Guardian reported the source as Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old who had been working at the NSA for four years.
Snowden believed it was important for him to publicly acknowledge his role in order to provide a human face to the story. He knew he was putting his life at risk and exposing himself to decades of incarceration. ‘My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them,’ he explained. Snowden hoped to trigger a debate ‘about the kind of world we want to live in’. The US government began an immediate campaign to track, harass and silence him.
More revelations followed that exposed a massive national security complex that spies on virtually everyone, everywhere. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), which is a secret court that was supposed to protect our privacy rights, was rubber-stamping every NSA request for the authority to spy without any real oversight. The US government was spying on foreign leaders, working with British spies to collect massive amounts of global data across the planet, and collecting over 200 million text messagesdaily. And the NSA was working to stop encryption (a technology developed to protect the privacy of both private individuals and businesses).
This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner By Jill Stein, The Guardian ‘ September 15, 2016.