Edward Snowden’s notoriety as the one who blew the whistle on the U.S. National Security Agency’s mass surveillance tactics on U.S. and international citizens is now historically set in stone, so his appearance via Google+ Hangout at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas this week has garnered a bit more than general surprise. His video message to the audience was broadcast from Russia, where he is currently housed in asylum, and he made a point to mention that the current surveillance operations of the U.S. are not preventing terrorism, but rather missing clues altogether.
Reports detail Snowden’s inflammatory speech as welcomed by the SXSW crowd, despite his pending charges for criminal espionage after he exposed many classified documents to global news organizations, which then went live to the public in June 2013 and have since trickled out in media. The Washington Post quoted part of his speech, detailing how egregious the failure in intelligent surveillance as been on the part of the U.S.:
“We’ve actually had a tremendous intelligence failure because . . . we’re monitoring everybody’s communications instead of suspects’ communications.”
Snowden’s now-public video broadcast goes on to call upon the tech companies that have led the way in terms of innovation to produce devices that are inherently more secure than the ones that are traditionally made available to consumers on the popular market. Of course, some companies are now doing so: Silent Circle’s Blackphone, and other private operating systems are to launch this year. But Snowden’s call borders on asking tech companies to refuse to participate in the damaging surveillance tactics that he considers having jeopardized American safety.
While many are still on the fence about how Snowden should be perceived — messiah or pariah — it is undeniable that his leaks last year have had untold effects on the Internet as we know it, and the preservation of data. The U.S. has been under fire with the administrations of other countries including Brazil and Germany, the global consideration for how data is stored is now shifting, the public call for transparency is a loud one, and some purport that the cloud computing industry as a whole is going to experience a significant change in course as both consumers and enterprises take different focused views on security and reliability of networks.