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The headline says it all here, unfortunately: the governmental agency has easy access to your private photographs, ...
The headline says it all here, unfortunately: the governmental agency has easy access to your private photographs, especially those with sensitive (read: nude) content, claims whistleblower Edward Snowden. In an exclusive interview for The Guardian at a Moscow hotel, Snowden talked about power abuses at the NSA, life in Russia, and his potential future in prison.
As part of their routine surveillance tasks, NSA employees frequently passed private, naked pictures and various other data belonging to US citizens around the office, says Snowden. “You've got young enlisted guys, 18 to 22 years old,” Snowden said. “They've suddenly been thrust into a position of extraordinary responsibility where they now have access to all of your private records.”
So what happens? “In the course of their daily work they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work in any sort of necessary sense. For example, an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising position. But they're extremely attractive.”
“So what do they do? They turn around in their chair and show their co-worker. The co-worker says: ‘Hey that's great. Send that to Bill down the way.’ And then Bill sends it to George and George sends it to Tom. And sooner or later this person's whole life has been seen by all of these other people,” says Snowden.
How will anyone find out, you might ask? Will someone get punished? “It's never reported,” Snowden says. “Nobody ever knows about it because the auditing of these systems is incredibly weak,” he adds.
Snowden denies allegations that he is a Russian spy, calling those claims “bullshit.” And is he under surveillance in Russia? “I think it’s reasonable to assume that I am under surveillance,” he says.
Edward Snowden made a bold decision when he exposed American surveillance activities, an act of treason for which he could be facing a life-long sentence. He is aware that going back to America is no longer an option, as he will never witness a fair trial on the agency's wrong-doings.
What is most astonishing, however, is that Snowden feels ok with being convicted for espionage and having to spend his life in a US prison, “If I end up in chains in Guantanamo, I can live with that,” Snowden said.
How do we make sure private matters remain private? Snowden advises everyone to treat technical literacy as a precious resource and and to learn how to asset to communicate in these digital times. This caution may even extend to cloud computing companies. If such companies wish to regain people's faith in privacy again, Snowden believes they need to implement a “zero-knowledge system.”
That means that the service providers can process their customers' content without knowing anything about it. Snowden mentions SpiderOak as one example of a “more-secure storage service” than Dropbox. He stresses the fact that Dropbox has the former US Secretary of State and warrantless tapping advocate Condoleezza Rice on its board of directors, and that she is “probably the most anti-privacy official you can imagine ... So they’re very hostile to privacy.”
See the full video interview with Edward Snowden here: