THE BLOG

Edward Snowden: Friend or Foe?

14/01/2014 11:09 GMT | Updated 13/03/2014 09:59 GMT

The right to privacy is a human right, but what exactly does this right entail? This is not easily explained. While the US constitution places limits on the government's ability to intrude on individuals' right to privacy, this was before modern technology came into the picture. Now that there are government surveillance programs, there is a need for the legal system to re-state our personal right to privacy. Up until Edward Snowden, no one addressed this possible violation.

Edward Snowden is presently one of the most controversial figures. When I Google him, headlines labeling him an 'American Hero' pop up while others tout him as a traitor. He has opened up an important debate about a citizen's right to privacy. In Snowden's words, his aim was "to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them." this does not just affect US citizens. the BBC claims the U.K. has allowed the NSA to store phone numbers and email addresses of British citizens since 2007.

Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who exposed PRISM in the leaks by previous NSA employee Edward Snowden, recently spoke via satellite at University College London. The U.S. government claimed that Greenwald's decision to release the PRISM documents was careless. As Greenwald said, there are thousands of documents he could publish. Only about 300 have been released. He has taken the time to choose what is necessary for publication. Greenwald also stated he thinks it is smarter not to release everything at once, as then the important details will not get the necessary attention.

As far as Edward Snowden's seeking asylum in Russia and the country's marred human rights record, Greenwald said no one questions the 100,000 people who seek asylum in the U.S. yearly, even though the U.S. has a record of torturing, breaching citizens' rights to privacy, and more. The only reason anyone is questioning Snowden is because of who he is. In addition, Greenwald pointed Snowden was not planning on seeking asylum in Russia but was actually in transit to Latin America before the United States interfered with his plans.

The US has charged Edward Snowden with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorized person. President Obama said he does not see Snowden as a patriot, and he also claims that his administration was in the process of reviewing the programs that were unknown by most American citizens.

We will most likely never know if this is true, and perhaps I am unnecessarily skeptical and untrustworthy of the United States, but I highly doubt that there was any such process underway or even such a process being discussed. Hopefully people pulled their heads out of the sand and became more aware of their government's actions. One thing is certain - our right to privacy needs to be reassessed and defined within the context of a world run by modern technology and filled with government surveillance programs.