Quoted: Edward Snowden on tech vs. surveillance

“We have the means and we have the technology to end mass surveillance without any legislative action at all, without any policy changes.”

Edward Snowden, in an interview with Wired. The former government contractor who leaked classified government documents showing the scope of NSA spying said changes such as “making encryption a universal standard” can help end mass surveillance. His comments about the role of technology vs. the role of government in the aftermath of his leaks come as technology companies such as Google and Yahoo work on technology such as “spy-free” email and calls for increased online encryption. Legislators — some of whom have discovered they were being spied on, too — are working on efforts to rein in massive NSA spying with bills such as the USA Freedom Act and other measures.

Snowden also told Wired that the “final straw” that prompted him to leak the documents was something called MonsterMind, a program that allows the U.S. government to automatically retaliate against cyberattacks. What’s the problem with that? “These attacks can be spoofed. You could have someone sitting in China, for example, making it appear that one of these attacks is originating in Russia. And then we end up shooting back at a Russian hospital. What happens next?” he told Wired. A couple of former U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal that it’s unlikely automatic retaliatory cyberattacks have been officially approved by the White House and Pentagon.

Snowden, who appears on the Wired cover clutching an American flag (which is ironic, considering some call him a traitor), is wanted by the U.S. and has been living in asylum in Russia. He says “I’m going to slip up and they’re going to hack me. It’s going to happen.”


Photo: Edward Snowden speaks to European officials via videoconference during a parliamentary hearing on improving the protection of whistleblowers, at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, eastern France, on June 24, 2014. (Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images)


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