Snowden, of course, is the former intelligence contractor who, in 2013, leaked documents about the United States government’s surveillance programs, dispelling any notions that the National Security Agency and its allies were playing a quaint game of spy vs. spy, limiting their dragnet to specific persons of interest.
…Sweeping up phone records of Americans citizens, eavesdropping on foreign leaders, harvesting data from internet activity: For revealing these secret programs and more, Snowden was deemed a traitor by the Obama administration, which charged him with violating the Espionage Act and revoked his passport, effectively stranding Snowden in Moscow, where he has been living ever since.
…The internet of the 1990s was a liberating space, he says, where adopting and discarding different avatars could open up possibilities for more authentic expression and connection.
…What does it mean to have the data of our lives collected and stored on file, ready to be accessed — not just now, by whatever administration happens to be in office at the moment, but potentially forever? Should such sensitive work be outsourced to private contractors? What entails effective “oversight” if the public is kept in the dark? When can concerns about “national security” slip into bids for unchecked power?