Cory Doctorow wrote a useful recap of Edward Snowden’s virtual appearance in Austin, Texas, USA yesterday. For me, one of the best talking points to come out of it is: By crippling encryption standards and insisting on back doors in all software, the NSA has not merely made it possible for the U.S. government to spy on you; they’ve made it easy for anyone to spy on your and/or steal from you.
Finding vulnerabilities in systems and exploiting them without telling the parties involved is some seriously black hit shit. Insisting that those vulnerabilities be built in to systems? We need a new hat color for the NSA spooks. Even if you think the U.S. government should have the ability and right to go through every electronic message sent in the world, does that mean they should knowingly leave the door open for everyone else?
This isn’t Snowden being a “hero.” Please don’t try to make it about him. Regardless of what you think of him personally, I think the important thing is that he exposed massive, systemic wrongdoing and flat-out lawbreaking on the part of the U.S. government against its own citizens. Making it about Snowden just gives cover to the people who were exposed as corrupt, incompetent, or lazy by the material Snowden released.