As the NSA’s surveillance continues to spread its domain, Snowden’s Christmas statement clarifies that with certainty this must stop, for now the technology used for surveillances is beyond the theoretical speculations of the enlightened George Orwell in “1984.” “The types of collection in the book -- microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us -- are nothing compared to what we have available today,” Snowden stated and continued to address that as a society we are entering an era in which future generations will have no conception of what privacy is. But, he concluded with a positive suggestion stating that “together we can find a better balance, end mass surveillance, and remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.”
Snowden’s statement and efforts have been recognized by the inventor of the internet, Tim Berners-Lee, who has stated that Snowden “did the world a favor.” A common ground of agreement has been found within the ideals of Berners-Lee, Snowden, and UN human rights chief Navi Pillay that “very important that governments now want to discuss the matters of mass surveillance and right to privacy in a serious way.” Therefore, the social support for Snowden’s cause is still present as he continues to leak information to the public.
As this was going on, reports were released stating that the US will try to sort out a deal with Snowden. Dame Commander of the Order of the Bath, Dame Manningham Buller is opposed the publication of files leaked by the former CIA agent because newspapers could not know what damage it had done to counter-terrorism operations. “My concern is the damage which I don’t think anybody outside of the intelligence community can really detect or judge.” Another statement against Snowden’s actions comes from former air force general and NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden called Snowden a traitor and accused him of treason. And in the same logic as Dame Manningham Buller, he states that Snowden has made the mission of national security “inherently weaker.” Therefore, it is clear that even though Snowden’s intentions are concerned with humanitarian issues, his actions have caused concern with national issues for government agencies. Again, Dame Manningham Buller suggests that the damage caused by Snowden’s leaks can only truly be understood by people within the intelligence community.
However, a whole other aspect to the information acquired by the NSA was brought up by the US Intelligence Official, William Binney, who claimed that “What [the NSA is] doing is making themselves dysfunctional by taking all this data.” It knows so much, he said, that it can’t understand what it has. Therefore, even for its purposes, the NSA is unable to operate as it is supposed to, and consequentially, it appears to be that the means of mass surveillance are not necessarily reaching the end of national security. And in this particular aspect, the suggestions from William Binney’s statement and Dame Manningham Buller’s statement reach a conflicting ground, for what damage to national security could’ve been done if the system in which it is “being” achieved is flawed. However, William Binney and his colleague, Ed Loomis were known to work on a project called ThinThreat, supposed to keep the incoming information as manageable and efficient, thus being far easier to narrow down and track down a suspected individual. In addition, Binney’s and Loomis’ intentions were that “[their] approach was to focus on the known terrorist community, which predominately existed overseas. However, [they] were also interested in any communications they had with anyone in America.” Thus, even though the concept of surveillance is still present, their idea of how it is done is far different from the mass surveillance currently done. Therefore, Binney’s and Loomis’ ideas present a regulated moderate surveillance that only takes in relevant information to the NSA rather than the currently widespread use of spyware on anyone.
But recent reports still suggest that the methods for mass surveillance by the NSA now include the instalment of spyware on shipments of computers to be sold to the public. The German magazine Der Spiegel reveal details on how the Tailored Access Operations of the NSA steals data and inserts invisible “back door” spying devices into computer systems. NSA officials responded by saying: “Tailored Access Operations is a unique national asset that is on the front lines of enabling NSA to defend the nation and its allies. [TAO’s] work is centred on computer network exploitation in support of foreign intelligence collection.” However, the actions in themselves remain shocking to the public.
But as the issue of mass surveillance and privacy continue, new debates arise, and pressure on the active parties continues as Snowden releases information and the national security agencies of the world continue to spy. Ultimately, there is key demand for regulation coming from Snowden, Binney, and Loomis, for surveillance at a certain extent is viewed as unnecessary, but at the same time the urgency to consolidate national security continues as people like Dame Manningham Buller and Michael Hayden speak out.