Edward Snowden – Defending privacy

It has been almost two years since Edward Snowden revealed the extent of intelligence agencies privacy violations. The young American whistleblower caused a worldwide debate on surveillance, but paid the price – he can no longer travel or return to his home country. What drove Snowden to become a fugitive and what does his life look like today? Edward Snowden in ten quotes.

Snowden says he tries to stay away from the spotlight and has turned down publishers who asked him to write a book. However, he has given several interviews in which he explained his motives. A selection of quotes:

On his motives

1. ‘I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building.’

2. ‘I realised that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good.’

On privacy and surveillance

3. ‘Privacy matters. Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.’

4. ‘The problem with mass surveillance is that you're burying people under too much data.’

5. ‘It’s been vindicating to see the reaction from lawmakers, judges, public bodies around the world, civil liberties activists who have said it’s true that we have a right to at least know the broad outlines of what our government’s doing in our name and what it’s doing against us.’

On being part of the story

6.  ‘I don't see myself as a hero, because what I'm doing is self-interested: I don't want to live in a world where there's no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity.’

7. ‘I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me.’

8. ‘There are much more important issues in the world than me and what’s going on in my life and we should be focusing on those.’

On living in Russia

9. ‘Russia’s a modern country and it’s been good to me so, yeah, I have a pretty normal life. … I don’t live in absolute secrecy.’

10. ‘I’ve been totally open about the fact that I disapprove of the majority of the recent laws in Russia on internet censorship and surveillance.’

 By Peter Teffer