Edward Snowden first came to light seven years ago as a man conflicted with the heavy burden of choosing between a nation’s right to know, the first amendment, and national security concerns, on his shoulders.
Edward Snowden: A Man Conflicted
He was working with the national security agency as a subcontractor and employee of the CIA. He took the weighty decision to become a whistleblower who leaked and copied highly classified information, including that of numerous programs run by the country’s security infrastructure that spied on citizens.
The Snowden Leaks Shed Light on State-Corporate Surveillance Programs
“The Snowden leaks provided unprecedented insights into the workings of state-corporate surveillance programs based on the interception and collection of online activity.” There are numerous perspectives on the story of Snowden, and each aspect carries its responsibility. As a citizen, Snowden had the right to express himself as per the first amendment and its facilitation for freedom of expression, meaning that he had the right to speak freely.
Information and the Digital Age's Risks to Privacy
The age of information and the digital age is characteristic of numerous risks to privacy, and these are the major issues that nations and democracies will face in the future. Governments that are irresponsible, autocratic, or unchecked will undertake mass surveillance much to the detriment of the privacy and safety of their citizens.
The Discrimination and Prosecution of Uighur Muslims in China
A good example is the communist government of China and the discrimination against and prosecution of the Uighur minority in Xingjiang. Mass surveillance is a form of mass oppression and is in no manner, shape, or form representative of a democracy or a government that cares about or protects the freedoms and rights of its citizens.
Did Snowden Do the Honorable Thing by Whistleblowing?
In this light, Snowden undertook an honorable and arguably heroic move by whistleblowing on the intelligence programs that were run by the government at the time. As a citizen, he can be termed a hero for not only putting his freedoms but those of others before his role and mandate in the intelligence community.
The Importance of Whistleblowers in an Age of Decreased Privacy and Increased Mass Surveillance
It is comforting to know that in an age of decreased privacy and increased mass surveillance, there are and can be individuals like Snowden who have the bravery and valor to speak up and shed light on injustices such as mass surveillance. Even in exile, Snowden is a critical part of the representations of the bravery; and heroism of the citizens of our great nation.