back to article I wish I'd leaked sooner says Edward Snowden in post-Oscar chinwag

In his first public comment since the documentary CitizenFour's Academy Award win on Sunday, Edward Snowden took questions from the public and revealed what he says is his biggest regret about becoming a whistleblower. "I would have come forward sooner," he said. "Had I come forward a little sooner, these programs would have …

  1. Schnoerkelman

    Well said

    "Our rights are not granted by governments. They are inherent to our nature. But it's entirely the opposite for governments: their privileges are precisely equal to only those which we suffer them to enjoy."

    +1 on that.

  2. Joe 48

    Problem Still is

    The worry with all this is, I'm not sure the public care enough. Or they don't appear to.

    The only place I hear people complaining about their rights are on tech forums.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Problem Still is

      That may change. The general public and the sponsors of the politicos vote with their wallet, not their brain.

      I find it difficult to believe that the Gemalto hack has lifted only SIMs. These chips and software are re-used for nearly anything and everything which relies on smartcard authentication under the sun. This includes, but is not limited to: credit cards, passports and ids, access cards, etc.

      Now, imagine the keys and data for these leaking... What exactly will happen to 3 and 4 letter agencies funding if let's say 3-4 major banks have to replace all of their cards and reimburse the consumers for most of their savings ending up in Subsaharan Africa, Transnistria and Ukraine.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Problem Still is

        I still find it odd there was a hack at all. The police can legally intercept (With a warrant) voice/sms data, so either already have access to the keys or the data is decrypted and send onto them. Either way this would have been an eaiser root to gain access. Unless this is for overseas data rather than the UK.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Problem Still is

      the problem isn't the outrage or the awareness, but the reporting on that outrage and awareness. Under the last Administration, everyone was aware of outrage about having to take off shoes at the airport, as if it were the biggest thing EVAR.

      Under this administration, with so many prominent media types either former employees of the current Administration or planning to be part of that Party when their current gig is done, there's a lot less emphasis on reporting the reactions of the public on issues this Administration is responsible for controlling.

      People ARE aware and upset. Don't believe otherwise simply because the "media/political complex" fails to report it. The blogs are a pretty decent indicator of what people feel when there is no "filter" on what is considered "important" by the big media companies.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Problem Still is

        I'm not basing it on the media. If you polled 100 random people on the street I'd be amazed if more than 20% cared. They might know, just because recent leaks have made national news, but I still don't think they care. Anyone I talk to outside of IT doesn't seem to.

  3. Sir Runcible Spoon

    Law of unintended consequences

    Whatever people think about the current state of play, I take a lot of hope from Snowdens comments about the tech industry leading the way and making updated software that costs more to subvert. It is exactly the way to overcome a monopolist corrupt political system - make it really expensive to do the things we (the people) don't want them to do.

    If the tools are made, but people don't use them, then democracy has spoken, but we need to have the choice and people need to be educated on the issues - this is what Snowden has given us and it is a powerful undercurrent that I see throughout the industry.

    They always say 'follow the money'. Well, the contract market for skilled security workers has never been more bouyant, and there feels like a real scarcity in the market, especially since JP Morgan started hoovering up all the loose contractors.

    The profile of online security (and thus the ability to keep data private) has come a long way in the last couple of years and I don't see it changing course anytime soon.

    There is a war going on right under our modems and has been for some years.

    1. dogged

      Re: Law of unintended consequences

      I think that's the first time I've seen you use a post title other than "Sir".

      But on-topic, well said.

  4. LucreLout

    Nice idea, but....

    But until there are leaders of one of the two parties willing to dissent on this issue, it will be hard to make it a big political issue

    To have a party leader (any party, anywhere) stand up to the security services they would need to immune from coersion. So somehow rise to the top of politics with no dirty deals, no mistresses, no one nighters with an aide at conference, no fiddling expenses.... And then to top that, no pressure points around family - daddies little girl / mummies little man can't have any secrets they need keeping either. Spying is, after all, what these agencies are expert at doing.

    Oprah: President Lout, is this a picture of you simulating sex with a stuffed goat.

    President Lout: Yep, that's me. Thought it was funny at the time. I was high, you see.

    Oprah: High?

    President Lout: Yep. As a kite.

    Oprah: I see.

    President Lout: No, no, it's not like that. I like girls. Hell, just I banged my assitant in the oval office while my wife was fixing lunch. Now, what I'd like to do is limit the power of the spy agencies and make privacy an absolute right.

    Oprah: Riiiiight....

    Bit far fetched, isn't it? Yet that is what it will take to get a person in power capable of standing up and making change. Find a solution for that little dilemma, and you've then got the issue of the facebook generation: They just don't want privacy, quite the opposite in fact.

    I want my privacy. It is my right. But what I don't see is any road map for change, yet.

    1. John G Imrie

      The answer is simple.

      Oprah: President Lout, is this a picture of you simulating sex with a stuffed goat.

      President Lout: Yep, that's me. Thought it was funny at the time. How did you get hold of it, it was never copied of the wife's camera

      Oprah: Er, an anonymous person gave it to us.

      President Lout: Really and how did you verify that it was real.

      Oprah: But you just admitted to it being real.

      President Lout: Yes I did. But until then you where on a fishing expedition trying to discredit me and my policy of privacy for all. I don't want anyone to have to go through what you just put me through, and that includes you, and the anonymous person from whichever three letter agency gave you the photo

      Oprah: Riiiiight?

      1. LucreLout

        Re: The answer is simple.

        That'd require a politician with balls.... and I don't mean Ed & Yvette!

        I'd love to see it happen, but the only people I know with enough character to pull that off aren't interested in politics.

  5. Anne-Lise Pasch

    I really don't think anyone cares about their privacy, except in very generalized terms. Only the tech-savvy seem to be bemoaning because we know there's more that can be done. Ask Jo Bloggs if he cares whether the government captures his communications for analysis and he will shrug, because its not as if he thinks anyone is actually reading it. (And he's probably right.) We already live in a CCTV nation and we have no idea who is actually watching those feeds, nor do we care so much. The real problem with advocating privacy is that the argument sounds lame compared with the opposite argument; people want to feel safe in their homes, and have an expectation that the reduction in privacy is implementing that and not leading to some kind of dystopia.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I wouldn't agree with you there, the campaigns against revenge porn have pretty well cemented the fact that the majority see privacy as an unquestionable right. The question is where does the line get drawn?

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Sir

        "The question is where does the line get drawn?"

        In a public court officiated by an uncorrupted judicial system.

        At least not behind closed doors by shadowy people and organisations.

        1. Dan Paul

          Re: Sir, ...But....

          there's no such thing as an uncorrupted judicial system! (In the US or anywhere.)

          Look at the current US administration (self proclaimed as honest, transparent and aboveboard), the IRS under Obama "deleted" all of it's email traffic to and from Lois Lerner. If that had happened during the Bush administration someone would be hanging from the Democrat yardarm. How did Clinton get his reprieve from the protein stained blue dress? There was no doubt it was his DNA.

          WMD anyone?

          The fact is that if no one pays the price, then no one ever learns their lesson. Let me know when the law applies to the hoi polloi.

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Sir

      The thing is, once the 'man in the street' is aware and pissed off enough about the loss of his privacy and all the ramications thereof, he won't have any tools at his disposal to fight back with unless they are made _now_.

      You don't win a war by poncing off with your mates in the morning with a couple of hockey-sticks and back in time for a pub-lunch on the croquet lawn anymore. Most conflicts involve a good deal of losses before the 'majority' wade in and play their part. If it does all end up like that then it's better to armoured than not.

    3. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      I really don't think anyone cares about their privacy, except in very generalized terms.

      There is some truth in that. Somehow we need to convince the man in the street that he needs to care about other people's privacy. He may not be particularly worried about himself being monitored -- the issue is that there are people for whom it does matter a great deal. And many of those could be him under some slightly different circumstances in the future.

      As well as the obvious cases like lawyers and journalists, there are the abused wife trying to avoid being tracked down by her policeman husband, the fracking/animal rights/anti-abortion/insert-favourite-left-or-right-wing-cause-here protester trying to prevent the police "randomly" stopping and searching them, the social pot smoker trying to avoid being refused a job.

      But there are also cases of complete innocents who could be our punter tomorrow: the person who uses a local plumber who also does business with a someone who turns out to be criminal, the school governor who serves on a committee with a local cleric who turns out to be a radical, the jogger who regularly runs near where someone was attacked, etc. All these innocent people should be protected from harassment and suspicion (and demands to "prove" their innocence) unless there is some actual reason to suspect them.

      I don't know how to do it, but we need the man in the street to realize the issue is not their own privacy but that a free society needs other people's privacy protected.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I really don't think anyone cares about their privacy"

      While I think that was largely true at the time Snowden surfaced, even then the steady stream of data breaches was starting to make people think twice about how much data they hand over and what's done with it. Since then the stream has turned into a flood, and if people are not exactly manning the barricades, the reaction against, for example, facebook tweaking privacy rules is considerably more vocal and sees more individuals changing their settings or simply abandoning it entirely. You could take the quick take up of Apple pay as being entirely about novelty or convenience, but a good deal of the enthusiasm seems to be about the fact that no personal data is passed to the retailer - losing a pile of customer data in the current climate is certainly not the trivial issue it would have been taken for 5 or 6 years ago.

      It will take some time for privacy and security to become make or break issues in politics, but in the meantime tech firms will certainly 'follow the money', and they currently seem to think better security is what punters want.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Rand Paul...

    I'm hoping that he does well in the Republican primaries, because he is the only potential candidate for President who really seems to care about mass surveillance.

    Then again, Obama made a lot of the right noises about surveillance, and then he sold out once he got into power.

    1. dogged

      Re: Rand Paul...

      maybe at that point they showed him what they had on him.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sooner? then he'd have had less "stuff"

    but if wishes meant anything, I wish we had more of these sort of "leaks" about things being done against Americans, and helpful for its citizens, instead of "leaks" which are nothing more than intel dumps, designed to help everyone BUT American citizens.

  8. b166er

    I don't think it's so much a privacy issue actually, this is an abuse of power issue.

    That's something everyone should be concerned with.

    But then, to quote Smith: 'Billions of people just living out their lives...oblivious'

  9. DJ

    Attention, please...

    Attention to privacy?

    I wonder if a truly large-scale identity theft would alter the level of apathy?

    Not that I'm suggesting anyone undertake such a thing, but until Jack and Jill User feel a compelling reason to act, they're unlikely to. Just sayin'.

  10. Ian Michael Gumby
    Black Helicopters

    Meh.

    Snowden?

    Rumor has it he was FSB.

    And the trouble is that Snowden like Manning don't understand why secrets are kept. In truth they are done to protect you. Yes, you. But many who will down vote this comment will never understand why or how they protect you.

    Those who look towards Arab Spring as a good thing, look again. Look at what happened in that power vacuum.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meh.

      "In truth they are done to protect you."

      Sometimes. But more often they are kept to protect prominent individuals, agencies and large businesses from jail time or getting egg on their faces when they've been greedy or just simply screwed up.

      I have only MI5s word or that of the oversight committee that what they do is above board, and I'm afraid the supposed accountability reeks too much of 'old boys network' for my taste.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        @AC Re: Meh.

        Actually that's a bi-product if that happens.

        The truth is that they are kept secret longer for that reason but not why they are made classified and secret.

        Look at Arab Spring. Something that was credited to Wikileak's leak of Manning's docs...

        Are we more secure or less secure from having the North African governments of Libya and Egypt in turmoil? Syria, Qatar in the Middle East?

        And lets also give credit to Obama and Bush for not having an exit strategy in Iraq nor following examples found in Marshall's post war Germany plans. ( I have to post that because if I didn't someone else would accuse me of being ignorant. ;-)

        And that's the point. The leaking of sensitive information made things worse. Beyond having incompetent fscks in office to begin with.

  11. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother

    > Rumor has it he was FSB.

    Really? Got any evidence to back that up?

    I've heard a rumour that he was FSM (praise his noodly appendages!)

    > trouble is that Snowden like Manning don't understand why secrets are kept. In truth they are done to protect you. Yes, you.

    Yes, IMG, keep drinking the Kool Aid. Remember the Government and the Security Services should have the right and the ability to snoop on everything you and we do and say and read and think because only then can we be protected from Terrorists and Drug Dealers and Paedophiles (oh my!)

    And even better, such snooping should be opaque and hidden behind closed doors and not subject to any scrutiny or oversight by our elected representatives because only then can our rights and liberties be protected!!

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      @Graham

      1) If I had proof, it wouldn't be a rumor. And no, I didn't start it.

      2) I'm not one for the cool-aid crew. I'll leave that to you.

      You just don't understand what is happening and why its not a good thing.

      How many people have died in Syria?

      Now how many people died in Syria under Assad's oppressive rule?

      The despot is the lesser of two evils.

      Its weird but until you do the math and understand why is going on... it doesn't make sense.

      To give you a historical example... The US dropped two bombs on Japan to end the war. They intentionally targeted cities that had civilian populations. (Oh and of course some military value.)

      But the truth is that it would be considered a war crime. Yet what would have happened if we hadn't dropped the bombs?

      Again its the lesser of two evils.

      BTW, you don't seem to get it... the snooping isn't illegal. Its the actual use of the evidence uncovered from snooping that is illegal. And that's a quirk in the law that will take time for you to get your head wrapped around it. All while you accept your freeware from Google not realizing the true cost of what you get for free.

      1. Phil Koenig

        Re: @Graham

        IMG wrote:

        "The US dropped two bombs on Japan to end the war. They intentionally targeted cities that had civilian populations. (Oh and of course some military value.)

        But the truth is that it would be considered a war crime. Yet what would have happened if we hadn't dropped the bombs?"

        The Soviets would still have marched into Berlin and defeated the Germans (at far great human cost to their citizenry than the USA suffered) and the war would have ended just the same.

        Thanks for playing.

        BTW, you spelled "Kool-Aid" wrong. Strangely, some of us drank it as kids without even coming under its spell. :)

        1. Ian Michael Gumby

          @Phil ... Re: @Graham

          It was the Germans who bombed Pearl Harbor. Some of us remember watching Animal House in the movie theatres and "Kool-Aid" is a trademarked product hence the misspelling is intentional as not to confuse the likes of you who had their brains rotted out by the sugar content. :-P

          As evidence... the bombs were dropped well after VE day. And the Russian's tactics treated their soldiers / civilians as cannon fodder. (Battle for Stalingrad as an example). And there's more to it too.

          But seriously... The conferences at Casablanca which led to the Yalta conference made it impossible for the US to allow for a conditional surrender. So if we were to estimate the US casualties for an invasion of the Japanese mainland, based on the cost of taking Iwo Jima, along with the fact that every Japanese citizen would have fought to the death... That number would far outweigh any other battle's casualties on both sides. (And I would never had known my Uncle who would have been leading a platoon in the second wave of the invasion.)

      2. Graham Marsden

        Re: @Graham

        1) You may not have started the rumour, but you're happy to spread it without any evidence or proof.

        2) I do understand that the "solution" that our Leaders have tried (repeatedly) is the wrong one. Just saying that something is "the lesser of two evils" is a cop-out. Bringing in the atomic bombs used on Japan is not relevant.

        3) You are the one that doesn't get it. The snooping is not illegal because TPTB have written (or re-written) the laws to make it legal. That doesn't make it right.

        Oh and 4) I don't accept freeware from Google. I use NoScript, I use AdBlock, I opt out of the NHS data grabs etc etc etc.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby

          Re: @Graham

          Dude,

          As I said, I didn't start the rumour.

          And yes you are correct, you don't understand.

          The simple fact is that the spying is legal. What's not legal is using the data gained from a warrant-less search aka spying.

          1. Graham Marsden
            Big Brother

            Re: @Graham

            Dude, as I said, you repeated it.

            And just because the people in charge of the people who want to spy on all of us "for our protection" say "oh yes, certainly, fine, that's all legal and dandy" doesn't justify it or make it right.

            But never mind, keep the blinkers on and enjoy the Bread and Circuses, after all you have nothing to hide, do you? (I bet you don't even have curtains...)

  12. Medixstiff

    If it's anything like Australia...

    It is never going to happen, both major parties have dirt files on each other's members and you can bet ASIO etc. have a copy too.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plan of action...

    Before anything can be done politically to fight for individual rights against state surveillance, there needs to be a careful analysis of which laws have been passed to grant these powers in each country. Then a reasoned debate over exactly how those laws need to be changed - where the line needs to be drawn to protect citizen's rights. I'd say if someone created a forum for this purpose (split on a per-country basis) and published it widely that would help start the ball rolling...

    Cases of abuse of state power should serve to motivate the public to support this movement politically. I suggest people search for "Covert Harassment" to find out more.

  14. crayon

    "Then again, Obama made a lot of the right noises about surveillance, and then he sold out once he got into power."

    "maybe at that point they showed him what they had on him."

    They really must have a tonne of dirt on him for him to say such pathetic drivel:

    "We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values"

    but

    "It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job those folks had. A lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots."

    'Our values' are obviously not that valuable when whole swathes of the US regime and state apparatus can collude in breaking both US law and international law by the systematic use of torture. These people are supposed to represent the best of US society, they are supposed to be educated, lawful, moral, and at the least, human beings. But a couple of plane crashes and a few thousand deaths shows that this bastion of civilisation will lose its veneer of humanity and revert to base animal instincts. If such primal behaviour can occur it what is supposedly the most advanced society on Earth, and can be excused and forgiven by the leader(s) of that society, then what right do they have to accuse any other people or society of human rights abuses?

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