NSA whistleblower and archnemesis of the domestic spymasters Edward Snowden had a good day in court yesterday, and he didn’t even have to appear.
Director of the ACLU’s Privacy and Technology department Ben Wizener appeared on CNN to say “this is a good day for Edward Snowden.”
Wizener believes that yesterdays court ruling from a federal judge appointed by George W. Bush which challenged the NSA’s blanket data collection program is “what happens when important legal issues are decided in open courts, where both sides get to make legal arguments. Rather than in secret courts where the government alone gets to present arguments to a court. This is, I think, a good day for Edward Snowden. This is what he had in mind. He saw programs. He doubted their legality. He saw that the oversight mechanisms had failed. That secret courts had become a rubber stamp. That congressional committees had been enabling rather than, than actually exercising oversight. And so he brought the information to the public through journalists and he brought it to the lawyers who brought this case.”
Wizener believes that even though it’s only a narrow provision that has been challenged with this ruling, it will set a positive precedent for the future.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama announced that he will be meeting with more than a dozen tech company leaders on Tuesday. The heads of major tech corporations have reportedly asked the government to change its spying practices.
CNN reports: Obama plans to sit down with Tim Cook of Apple and Eric Schmidt of Google, as well as executives from Twitter, Microsoft, Facebook, Salesforce, Netflix , Etsy, Dropbox, Yahoo!, Zynga, Sherpa Global, Comcast, LinkedIn and AT&T, a White House official said.
A rumor from a senior security official surfaced recently that the US government might make an offer of asylum to Edward Snowden in exchange for his returning his documents. Snowden has reportedly claimed that he will seek asylum in Brazil in the form of an open letter that was released earlier this week.
“Today, if you carry a cell phone in Sao Paolo, the NSA can and does keep track of your location: they do this 5 billion times a day to people around the world. When someone in Florianopolis visits a website, the NSA keeps a record of when it happened and what you did there. If a mother in Porto Alegre calls her son to wish him luck on his university exam, NSA can keep that call log for five years or more. They even keep track of who is having an affair or looking at pornography, in case they need to damage their target’s reputation.
“American Senators tell us that Brazil should not worry, because this is not ‘surveillance,’ it’s ‘data collection.’ They say it is done to keep you safe. They’re wrong. There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement — where individuals are targeted based on a reasonable, individualized suspicion — and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever. These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.”