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Citizen Four, Edward Snowden and the Whistleblower Identity

The most uncanny aspect of “Citizen Four,” the Laura Poitras film which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary this week, is the time shift. You are there, in the hotel room, as Edward Snowden releases his story in real time, and moves out of anonymity into the international spotlight, even though the events shown onscreen took place a year earlier. The point of view, the tension, the you-are-there is so palpable, you forget this already took place in the news cycle.

“Citizen Four” is a thriller story writ large. Even though you know the outcome: that Snowden managed to get to safety in an undisclosed location in Russia, was not picked up by the CIA or the FBI despite his branding as a traitor by the United States government. It evokes nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat attentiveness in the telling.

Whatever your opinion about the man, Edward Snowden, he and his story delivery collaborators have raised some of the most dynamic dialogues of our era about the extent and ramifications of mass surveillance. The film depicts an earnest citizen faced with a difficult decision: to remain nose-to-the-grindstone, continue to pick up his paycheck, or disclose sensitive documents to a select cadre of journalists and disrupt his future.

What is unusual about this story is that Snowden sought out Director Laura Poitras due to her previous body of work, which includes “My Country, My Country” (2006), about Iraq under U.S. occupation; and “The Oath” (2010), about two men affiliated with Osama bin Laden, one of whom is the first defendant to be tried in the U.S. military tribunals established by the United States Department of Defense.

Snowden took a risk reaching out to a stranger, but chose trust due to her track record as a storyteller and free speech advocate. She is turn delivered his request as the anonymous “Citizen Four” to “ensure this information makes it home to the American public.” Clearly, she did even more than that. She controlled a narrative that could have been utterly spun into black and white enemy terrain. The film presents Edward Snowden, the human being, holed up in a Hong Kong hotel, who believes what he is doing is the right thing, full knowing he may end up in prison or worse.

Just a few years earlier, Chelsea Manning landed in lifetime solitary confinement following the release of the Collateral Damage video files to Wikileaks. Alex Gibney’s 2013 documentary, “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks,” features interviews with Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning, but the main focus is on the emergence of Julian Assange as the face of the open source portal. Assange refused to be interviewed for the film, so the filmmaker relied on archival and news footage to tell the story. We are given a glimpse of Manning but she is largely overshadowed by the charismatic and problematic figure of Assange, himself branded a traitor by the U.S. government, now living in the Chilean Embassy in London, as he rises from Melbourne hacker to international icon after he supplying the Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel with thousands of classified documents about US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In “Citizen Four,” with a direct address level of intimacy, Laura Poitras delivers a portrait of a young man pursuing his conscience despite personal risk, in real time. In collaboration with the international journalist Glen Greenwald, Poitras carefully documents the release of the story even though doing so risked their implication in a national security breach. (Both Poitras and Greenwald have been repeatedly detained at international borders and now carry encrypted files and well as extensive backups to protect their work from confiscation.)

Here is an excerpt from her Oscar acceptance speech:

The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself. When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control. Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage, and for the many other whistleblowers. And I share this with Glenn Greenwald and other journalists who are exposing truth.

This week, Poitras, Greenwald and Snowden hosted a AUA (Ask Us Anything) thread on Reddit to answer questions in the wake of their Oscar win. Snowden currently lives under protection in Moscow, where he frequently participates in virtual interviews, including last years robotic appearance at TedTalks, “How to Take Back the Internet.”

What are your thoughts on Snowden’s risk-taking in exposing this story, even though it may mean a permanent loss of personal freedom? What of his role as a now-virtual voice in the international dialogues about government surveillance, free speech and the future of power in the hands of the many, or the hands of the few?




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  1. R. Stauffer

    I have been dying to see this documentary—especially since it won the Best Documentary Feature Academy Award. I was pleasantly surprised that it won: In my opinion, it definitely deserved it on content alone, but sometimes it seems that the Academy avoids any kind of controversy (like why Selma’s director was not nominated).

    I had never seen Edward Snowden’s TED Talk, and out of the whole thing, this sentence at the beginning stood out to me: “What really matters here are the issues.” He’s exactly right: It isn’t about him. I think that speaks to the question of whether the loss of his own personal freedom is worth it—to him, it seems, it was. As the Viral Media Lab article says: “The film presents Edward Snowden, the human being, holed up in a Hong Kong hotel, who believes what he is doing is the right thing, full knowing he may end up in prison or worse.” Is doing what is right for the greater good despite personal implications the definition of a hero? Should Ed Snowden be classified as one?

    Ed Snowden’s role, in my opinion, is that of a liberator. The issue isn’t as simple as exposing some secrets—Snowden opened an international dialogue on a seemingly-changing definition of democracy, freedom of speech, and an ongoing issue of living in a dystopian-style nation of surveillance. I am amazed that he has stayed in the public eye, giving TED Talks and virtual interviews. His voice, even above Chelsea Manning’s, has defined this issue and continues to do so.

    Our country has breached its own constitution and amendments. Is free speech “free” if someone is always watching? Have we already lost our personal freedom? Is anything really personal anymore? (I ask myself this almost every time I type a tweet)

    I admit: The answers scare me. But we would not be asking the questions without Snowden, and that is why his role is so powerful.

    • Kathleen Sweeney

      You ask a key question: “Is doing what is right for the greater good despite personal implications the definition of a hero?” Overcoming fear of consequences to do what one believes is the “right thing” in a historic pivot point in time does define heroism. Snowden took that risk, which beyond his potential imprisonment, which he has skirted for now, he has had to sequester himself and channel his voice into a cyber presence online. He is a liberator of ideas, of conversation, of dialogue around these key issues. The technology we’ve created has eclipsed the full understanding of its future implications and impact on personal freedom. Snowden had his own lightning bolt moment that inspired him to take action. For the future. How will this stockpiled information be used by governments going forward? What if leadership shifts? He is asking so many important questions and engaging with audiences online in ways we never dreamed possible. And likely, neither did he.

  2. Peta Mni

    I’ve yet to see Citizen Four however I did watch the Frontline series United States of Secrets which helped me to understand the series of events that led to Snowden contacting Poitras and Greenwald. Watching the Snowden bot at TED in Vancouver, I was most struck by his rallying cry for us to infuse the Internet with our “values”. Listening to him speak of his own attempts to do just that by risking himself for what he believed to be right, he certainly has the moral high ground to say it.

    In his doing so however I began to think of the Internet quite differently. More and more it’s becoming a real place to my mind’s eye in that I am experiencing the same feelings a person might have regarding their earthly homeland. Specifically that the Internet is less of a “thing” that simulates reality but rather a psychic terrain upon which all humanity may actually exist and interact. Not only for commercial interests mind you but interest in the course that our humanity has taken.

    It bears the question then if this new homeland will be inflicted by the same methods of colonization and imperialism that have exploited humanity and our precious earth so far? Snowden’s insistence that the Internet be more democratic than our lived reality in the US, with sad but well meaning attempt to be a democracy, to me is quite noble. If we are incapable of doing it “here” however then how can we be expected to “there”? Since the Internet has the potential to be the sum total of humanity’s knowledge can we really expect that this new intelligence will steer us away from harming one another? Or do we, living in an post-modern and so-called “enlightened” society, advocate for TOTAL transparency? With no secrets anywhere from anyone who desires the access?

    Snowden’s call for service providers to be able to guarantee better encryption sounds good to my ears. It’s definitely something to seriously consider as the start for creating the trust necessary for democracy online. I think in application it can be considered a reasonable attempt to maintain a safe pace as we grapple with the moral and ethical implications of our developing technology.

    • Kathleen Sweeney

      You raise a lot of important points about the Internet ecosystem. What messages do we want to surround ourselves with in this seemingly endless terrain of information? Now that we have access to these powerful tools, what is it that we want to broadcast? Will we be echo-puppets of bi-polarization from channels like Fox News, or disseminators of creativity, innovation, and possibility? There are many streams of information online: some polluted with half-truths and gossip; some full of NASA awe; some micro-communities of storytelling in need of our attention. Where we click and what we share determines the quality of the info-streams. We are the constant curators, which is why we need to be mindful of our choices.

      With this week’s passage of #NetNeutrality, and the designation of the Internet as a Public Utility is a huge step forward in ensuring free speech and enterprise online. This has come from nine years of online and policy-maker activism, a collaboration between enterprise and non-profits, digital journalists, educators and now huge companies that began through the portal of the open Internet like Facebook.

  3. Roderic David

    I had the pleasure of attending Citizen Four’s premier at the New York Film Festival and months later I am still in awe of that moment. I remember the moment when Edward Snowden first appeared on the screen and the entire audience broke out into rapturous applause, just as I remember Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald speaking at the end of the film about the work that still must be done.

    My personal feelings about Edward Snowden often went back and forth, but seeing this film was revelatory in that we saw him not just for his actions, but for what led him to make them, and who the man really is behind them. There are moments in the film when despite Snowden doing his best to put on a brave face, you can see he has a lot of fear about what lies ahead of him. Regardless of whether you agree with him or not, or what side of the political issue you are on, you have to agree that Snowden took a courageous stand for what he believed in.

    I never thought a film like Citizen Four could be made, and I’m very thankful that it has been because of the discussions about surveillance and national security that it is causing to take place. Similarly, I never thought that it it would an Oscar, as the merits of films like these are often overlooked for their politics. I hope that this widespread attention will lead to increased pressure to reform the way our government conducts itself and the way it treats its citizens.

    • Kathleen Sweeney

      What an honor that you were able to attend the premiere! Did you attend as a journalist?

      Your observations about Snowden are interesting, because the “traitor” moniker which accompanied the initial break of the story embeds itself in the first layer of readership of the situation. The gift of Poitras’ film is bringing forth a real human being, beyond any reductive labels, to reveal the complexity of his involvement. You nailed it: “There are moments in the film when despite Snowden doing his best to put on a brave face, you can see he has a lot of fear about what lies ahead of him. ” So true. He knew he was taking an incredible risk.

  4. Rachel Weidinger

    I think his efforts to publicize his findings are incredible. Due to this issue’s high level of security, it’s going to take efforts of several different individuals, not simply one. He is directing his attention to the fact that this is an international issue regarding mass surveillance that we need to address, rather than focusing on the consequences and implications of his efforts. It directly affects him and everyone present in the digital sphere – and most importantly, is a pressing issue. Like others have mentioned, this is not the first story to bring up the issue of the public’s privacy and surveillance, so in a way these stories have worked to inspire Snowden’s efforts to take it further and contribute to the issue. He sees the risk, but he’s sees the benefit – which is 10x greater.

    It seems as though Snowden is very aware of the implications of his actions, which explains his emotions of fear and uncertainty. Privacy is a very intimate thing – a threat to democracy – and the fact that every person is under this government spotlight, is far from comforting. “Every border you cross, every purchase you make, every call you dial, every friend you keep, every site you visit, and every subject line you type, is in the hands of a system whose reach is unlimited, but whose safeguards are not,” states the security agent from the Citizen Four trailer. This quote struck me due to it’s visualizing power. After reading this, individuals are able to picture themselves in each of these cases and realize that they were under a surveillance the whole time. Snowden’s efforts, along with many, help to raise this issue to a level so that others can join in on the discussion working towards making a change.

    • Kathleen Sweeney

      You make a great point about “visualizing power.” Increasingly, documentaries have become key components of social change movements, due in large part to the dissemination reach of the Internet. Films like this used to depend solely on theatrical distribution which limited their audience and impact. The fact that filmmakers can now engage with their viewers online–like in the Reddit forum hosted by Poitras, Greenwald and Snowden–is just one example of the shift.

  5. Jennifer Chien

    Edward Snowden definitely takes a huge risk in exposing his story but believes in something even greater, the truth. Most people are unable to tell their story due to the loss of personal freedom but Edward believes that the truth deserves to be known rather than focusing on the consequences of himself, he takes the notion of entering a hotel room in Hong Kong where he gets filmed discussing illegal wiretapping practices of the NSA.

    Edward is extremely courageous where most people are unable to discuss it let alone think about letting the secrets slip out of their tongue. Surveillance and national security is something that surrounds us everyday whether you’re at the bank, bodega, at school, in the subway, etc. but where is the line to privacy? Do we as citizens even have privacy anymore? Everything is traceable and secrets are nonexistent.

    He believes in this issue and states his worries of what he is aware about. He completely disregards the consequences of what he spilled, although he does begin showing a sense of fear in his face and choice of words, but other all remains an important role in the stepping-stones of correcting what is wrong.

  6. bill ritter

    It takes enormous courage to be a whistleblower, to go against your government, your peers, a huge percentage of the american people. It takes guts and focus and determination. Ed Snowden clearly has all that, and more. He’s very smart. But as he says succinctly and without hesitation, the controversy surrounding him and his release of classified government secrets that reveal just how widespread electronic eavesdropping is against the american citizenry, isn’t and shouldn’t be about him, or about his upbringing, his politics, what he eats for dinner, the clothes he wears, and what music he may or may not like

    it is instead, he insists, rightly, about what the government is doing with all the information it is gathering 24/7 on all of us.

    My take is that Snowden is a patriot. But I also feel that if we’re intellectually honest about all this, two issues are paramount to address. The first is that the government will argue that it has used surveillance to get information that has stopped several would-be terror plots. Whether this is propaganda or embellishment or the truth – there are many people, some of them very smart, who believe this. And after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, when the country was, many believe, convinced to embrace new rules and new laws about surveillance (convinced to swallow The Patriot Act, and all its Constitution-bending rules), there were many Americans who willingly went along with giving up some of their rights to protect against another terror attack.

    It is, dare I say, easier to sit and ruminate about the pros and cons of this in the safety of our homes and classrooms than in the raw battlegrounds of the fight against terror. And we can’t ignore this part of the equation. There are many Americans, clearly, who support the Patriot Act.

    Secondly, and I know there are many good reasons why Mr. Snowden left the country, but I am and have been bothered by this. I speak from experience. In 1969, I was facing being drafted into the Vietnam War – a war i had no intention of participating in. (I was in college, but did NOT have a student deferment.) My parents wanted me to go to Canada; I refused to run, instead insisting I’d go to jail for my convictions. This is my country, I told my mom and dad, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to live in exile, or run away. I will speak my mind, and pay the consequences.

    Why didn’t Snowden do this? He could have released the documents, given interviews perhaps, and certainly left it to others to help argue his case at places like TED, etc. By running away – and especially by running to of all places Russia, which clearly has huge political incentive to slap the U.S. and, if possible, get its hands on some of the raw surveillance data – Snowden is sending a confusing signal about his otherwise brave and patriotic act. Why consort with and seek asylum with a country that is so wicked when it comes to human rights and democracy? It muddies the issue he’s trying to highlight. And he’s also raising the side issue – which also confuses the whole controversy – of not standing up for what he did, facing the music and paying the consequences. (Of course, being in exile and away from friends and family is a kind of prison unto itself, and I get that.)

    Daniel Ellsberg, when he released the Pentagon Papers as a member of the State Dept., which exposed government lies about the Vietnam War, didn’t run away. He stayed, and went on trial. He faced his accusers, and used the courts as a forum for explaining why he disclosed confidential information. I think that’s braver than running, although I understand Snowden’s reasoning, and could even argue for it. But it is indeed the braver thing to do, and would have avoided the sideshow of seeking exile in Russia, which I believe dilutes and distracts the serious points he’s raised. I wonder how many people who seemed ambivalent in that TED talk and didn’t raise their hands pro or con about Snowden, were uneasy about his running away to Russia.

    I say all this not with any sense of moral high ground, but instead looking at it from the point of view of snowden himself, who i assume wants to relate to the most number of people possible.
    Running to russia drove otherwise sympathetic people away, in my opinion.

    • Kathleen Sweeney

      The tricky part in comparing Ellsberg and Snowden is the timeframe. Ellsberg was allowed due process. Post 9/11, the era of Guantanamo and the reclassifying of the term “terrorist” and the activation of the Espionage Act meant that Private Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, is currently serving 35 years in Federal prison in solitary confinement for violations of that Act after admitting to releasing classified documents to the press and to the world. Snowden was well aware of what happened to Manning and that he would be branded a traitor.

      As revealed in the film, he also sought asylum in Iceland (both Russia and Iceland were discussed as options), but the reasoning behind the selection of Russia seemed more expedient (to get to a safe haven as quickly as possible), than a deliberate Putin-esque dig at the U.S. government. But yes, it’s clearly problematic.

      Would he truly be granted a fair trial if he returned to the United States?

      We will have to wait and see. Given the success of the film, perhaps his high profile will now guarantee a highly-publicized outing in the courts with a fair trial.

  7. Adrienne Santamaria

    Personally, I believe that journalism is about getting information out to the general public. With this type of definition, Snowden has done his job correctly. However, it is worth taking into account that there are certain unspoken rules that come along with the title of journalism. For example, during an interview, a person can tell the reporter something “off the record”, which they honor by keeping such information confidential. In this way, Snowden has violated the privacy of an entity (but does the government cout as an entity or are they exempt from being “off the record”, so to say.)

    In the TED talk, his presence is powerful. Despite “hiding out” in a foreign country, he makes himself available through any means. He goes on Reddit and I don’t doubt that he has feelers out in other social media. While some may say his fleeing the country is cowardly, I disagree. He fleed the country not for protection, but for assurance that he would be able to keep giving out information. Had he stayed, he would not be available for TED talks or Reddit AMA’s. If he was, they would be limited by government involvement, no doubt.

    In my eyes, Snowden did the right thing. He gave the public information that they otherwise never would have had access to. I understand the government’s desire for privacy, but they are dependent on their citizens and therefore, should not be in the business of keeping so many secrets.

  8. Zoe Tara

    Whistleblower, traitor, enemy, these are all loaded words that paint a picture of what some refer Edward Snowden to be. Yet, with the release of Citizen Four and the accompanying Ted Talk in the article, the issues prove to be more than just a matter of a simple label.

    These are issues of gray morality and yet listening to Snowden speak, one can clearly see the conviction and passion he has in his mission of revealing this information. He truly believes he is doing good, effecting change, and doing what is truly correct.

    One can not deny the courage and passion that Snowden delivers. Yet, he brings into focus troubling and tough issues. What indeed is the line between privacy and security? Today in a increasingly digitally inclined world these issues come into greater consideration. Most can agree that we want our country to supply security but what is this stopping point and where does it indeed infringe upon our individuality and freedom?

    I do feel Snowden had to leave not only for the sheer fact of his freedom and safety but for the possibility of furthering his mission and work. With him being able to live abroad in a undisclosed location he is able to remotely continue to spread his insights and create disruption in this space.

    Snowden says within the TedTalk that the “public interest is not always the same as the governments interests.” Perhaps this is true, but what I can truly express is how important it is to see the passion, convictions, and discussion this issue brings to the intersection of these two parties interests and collaborations.

  9. Sara Maldonado

    Whistleblowers are an integral part of our society. Unfortunately, we are all human and eventually there are people in leadership positions that hide important information from the public and as a society we cannot make the necessary changes to ensure that everything is for the benefit of the greater good.

    Snowden was smart to find the right journalist and to flee the country. I also think the way that the documentary was set-up was very interesting. It helped viewers who maybe did not fully understand all reasons behind Snowden’s whistleblowing gain a better view of what pressure he was under and what environment he was a part of.

  10. Michelle Quach

    Snowden’s act of courage may lead to a potential loss of personal freedom but he is very aware of the risks and threats that come along with it. I applaud Snowden because he wants the citizens of America to be aware and open their eyes to what is really happening in our country. Privacy is very important to every individual and he assures the audience why we must be conscious of something so powerful than rather turn the blind eye. Snowden is a true patriot, sticking to his beliefs and rights as an American citizen and passionately spreading awareness by exposing the government, he believes for the better. He is simply exposing the truth that us, Americans, have the right to know. He plays a tricky role as a whistleblower because of his hideaway in Russia. In a country who the U.S. are not on good terms with, rest uneasy on many Americans. His intentions becomes questionable because of this. I believe his role in international dialogue cannot be ignored especially now because of his award winning documentary that gives people a better understanding of Snowden and his mission. He shows that he is not scared and will adamantly defend our freedom of speech and privacy through interviews, speeches, etc.

    • bill ritter

      i think there’s a kind of dual-world, parallel universe prism through which we view people who take a stand. we think it’s admirable when people live their convictions. history is filled with people we honor and admire for doing that. but the other side of the proverbial coin is whether we admire the substance of why they take a stand. there’s no one, so far, who has expressed their disagreement with a member of the nsa, with a high level security clearance and an oath to keep information secret, violating the law and releasing all this classified information. but there are plenty of americans who believe that, even if they’re not members of this new school class.
      similarly, there are plenty of people who are anti-abortion who take stands that, especially if you’re pro-choice, you’d find horrific. yet they’re passionate as well. do we admire their passion but disdain their position? is that contradictory?
      i once interviewed a man named paul hill, who murdered a doctor because the physician performed abortions. I interviewed hill on death row, just before he was executed. he was filled with contradictions – he thought he was ok to murder a doctor who was, in his view, taking a human life. he saw it as the height of righteousness to give his own life for the cause of taking a fetus’s life, while he was about to be put to death, leaving his own children fatherless.
      he was most certainly passionate about his beliefs, and willing to die for them. and in fact he did. but i had – and have – a hard time putting that passion to live/act one’s convictions on the same level of being anti-abortion and killing people in the name of that cause (paul hill and others hate when we describe them in the news as “anti-choice” or “anti-abortion”… they say they are “pro life.” am i biased because i refuse to call them that? )..

      • bill ritter

        can’t help but think of mr. snowden as the news breaks today about former general and former cia director david petraeus. today he pleaded guilty to “mishandling classified materials.” it’s a misdemeanor.
        the complaint details how he gave his biographer, who also happened to be the married general’s girlfriend at the time (i bring that up because in military parlance, that’s against the rules and subject to criminal proceedings – go figure), 8 “black books” containing national security secrets and the names/identities of covert agents. he also lied about it to the fbi.

        if that were us – if that were ed snowden – it would mean felony charges and prison time. and lying to the fbi is, prima facie, automatic 5 years in federal prison.

        #doublestandard

  11. bill ritter

    and this is just breaking re: snowden.. he wants to come back.. IF he can get a fair trial.
    MOSCOW (AP) – NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden wants to return to the United States from Russia if he’s guaranteed a fair trial, his Russian lawyer said Tuesday.

    Anatoly Kucherena told a news conference Tuesday that he has teamed up with U.S. and German lawyers to work on the issue, but gave no further details.

    Snowden was stranded in a Moscow airport in 2013 on his way from Hong Kong to Cuba, shortly after he released extensive documentation about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. Russia has granted him asylum, attracting the ire of the United States.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that the nation’s security agencies had worked with Snowden.

    Snowden’s whereabouts have not been made public. Kucherena said Snowden moves freely but is accompanied by guards. “He goes shopping, he visits museums and theaters under escort,” he said.

    He said Snowden’s longtime girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, visited him in Moscow. “They have a very good relationship,” he said, adding that he rejects other potential dates offered for Snowden.

    The lawyer, who presented his book about Snowden, praised him as a “heroic and open person,” who has “principles and convictions” and didn’t hesitate to defy the U.S. government.

  12. Jacqueline Buda

    So often we hear names in the news such as Edward Snowden’s: they become some abstract figure to us, untouchable and faraway, but creating history nonetheless. What is unique about Snowden is that he seems to want to set an example, even if it is at a cost to him personally. He’s leaving a real mark on the world one way or another. The details of his whereabouts and impending consequences probably mean little to him: he’s setting a huge precedence for future whistleblowers.

  13. Karlin ready

    I applaud Edward Snowden for his efforts to raise awareness about the protection of our privacy and social security. Many of us Americans have been accustomed to the idea that the Internet has been something the federal government has been keeping a close eye one yet we have done nothing about it. The contradiction to the ammendment and the American Dream is washed away with these kinds of ill acts from our government. I would like to think that the government got a taste of their own medicine when Edward decided to not only leak the information but to also reach a wider audience with a documentary. The power of the Internet in this case has gone against the governments liking and how Edward is on many online chats such as Ted talks and Reddit. These two specific channels are reaching every kind of person in the country whether they are familiar about the issue or just now hearing about it. What Edward did was noble no doubt but how he is utilizing his resources and keeps on making it a subject we all discuss is even more so. Hats off to him for his detication and strength.

  14. Hsien Yun

    Information can be a two way street, it can be helpful, and extremely harmful. I do think Edward Snowden is very brave to be calling out his own employer, the american government; however, I’m not sure if I feel as strongly as some of the other people about our privacies being invaded. Privacy is an interesting term, and although the definition of this term stayed the save since it’s been invented-I don’t think it stands the same meaning to our generation anymore. I believe the information that the government is collecting can be extremely useful, say if the country is under any type of treat, this information can come in handy. I think what is making people angry is how far our country has gone to collect our personal datas. Essentially there’s nothing private in our lives, no calls, no mails, no private browsing. On the other hand, what did we expect from the internet and technology? I think it’s a but naive to think that “personal” and “Privacy” can be untamed in a world we live in today. There was this misbelief that we had total “freedom” in many things and we are discovering that we are not as free as we once thought. This reminds me of when parents give us rules and curfews in order for our own safety. Although our first instinct might be to rebel, we know deep down that they might be right and this is coming from the love and care they have for us. Same thing with the American Government, we might absolutely hate the idea of them tapping into our personal life, but what if they are doing so to protect us?


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