Friday November 13, 2015
In 2013, Edward Snowden released classified documents, many of which described in detail the information governments collect on private citizens around the globe. Some have labeled Snowden a traitor. Many people consider him a hero. Media outlets seek his opinion and even advice on personal privacy and security issues. He even delivered a TED Talk via satellite from his Russian sanctuary, viewed more than three million times.
Ironically, earlier this spring, the French government even considered offering Snowden permanent and safe asylum.
As I travel the world and share the inner workings of transforming online data into meaningful intelligence, I have heard many of the arguments for and against spying vs. privacy. In my opinion, the “I have nothing to hide” party and the “privacy trumps security” party both have equally logical and compelling points.
When Edward Snowden released to the world “what was being gathered” and “how it was being done,” he basically gave the instructional manual to terrorists on how they can avoid getting caught.
Make no mistake, what we are witnessing tonight in Paris is either a direct or indirect result of Snowden’s actions.
I in no way am saying that the heinous acts occurring in Paris would have been stopped had Snowden never come forward. What I do believe, and in my conversations with security experts who do know, is that Snowden did irreparable damage to the world’s anti-terrorism efforts. Or said another way, what we are witnessing this evening quite possibly is the the price paid for a society of personal privacy rights and protections.
No matter where you stand on the issue, on a night like tonight, the question must be asked: Is the price worth it?