How unbecoming. I was supposed to write a post a month yet now find myself two months behind. Well, thanks to my current idle state, I should be able to pump some droll material out at a much better clip (including finishing up writing on the SB trip at one point…).
At night recently I cannot help but think about 1) Game of Thrones and 2) the recent media uproar surrounding the NSA. To address the latter first, from a distance this seems to be a simple question of liberty and security. A man motivated by his own moral compass with privileged access makes a decision to betray the trust of company and country for what he considers the betterment of that country. Admirable to some, sedition to others. Throw in bits of Enemy of the State and it makes sense why this is a sensation. What to think of it all?
Just like the the devil, an important conclusion is in the details. After all, one should not look at this issue and form an opinion from a distance. Need proof? Just look at the most famous maxim related to the security/liberty debate provided by Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” A full explanation of that (suggesting it’s not actually about these rights as we know them) proves nothing is as straightforward as one might think-even if we want it to be.
So, for the moment, set aside the Scarlet Letter fact that he betrayed company and country-something I cannot stomach. It’s done. Let’s analyze from beyond that point.
As I see it, Mr. Snowden’s decision to self-edit what he handed over certainly shows a degree of concern and appreciation for national security implications much more so than Bradley Manning’s rash act. Yet, it also shows arrogance that he would understand the implications of what he was doing-that he knew what was best or could hope to understand the outcomes of his monumental actions.
There is something undeniably altruistic about his desire to believe that the internet should be above snooping; a moral high-ground which advances the best ideas of humanity. Of course it is extremely naive, but it gives Mr. Snowden a Promethean feel.
Unfortunately, I feel he is not a titan; more a member of Anonymous than Prometheus. He is supposedly well-versed in the ideas of the internet, yet he is advancing his set of ideas more than the reality of the world wide web and society.
At the end of the day, he has not blown the whistle on anything illegal. Yes, as American citizens, the concern for government overreach should be a concern. But, the program is “perfectly legal” and I think the example of Twitter choosing not to participate demonstrates corporate responsibility-especially as a company seeking to cultivate an image of user-privacy.
Moreover, people now caught up worried that their phone calls are listened to are misinformed. Similarly, those who fear Facebook is only now collecting private information about them are fools. Naivete is a (very) poor excuse to be outraged by these revelations.
Mr. Snowden cannot be naive (and should know of the Obama administration’s extreme crackdown on whistleblowers which makes you wonder if he’s a masochist, but that’s another story). He has the makeup of an informed and intelligent individual but chose to show personal disagreement in such a provocative (and likely illegal) way I do not understand.
Or at least that’s what I think at the moment…Game of Thrones is pretty sweet too.