When asked by Glenn Greenwald why he leaked the PRISM program, Edward Snowden suggests he was advocating for privacy as it “strengthens the people’s ability to oppose the state.” Ladar Levison, the creator of the encrypted email service, Lavabit, is also in favor of privacy as he stated,  “… what good is the right to free speech if it isn’t protected in a sense that you can’t have a private discussion with somebody else about something you disagree with” [1]. When there is no privacy, people lose their ability to have a “free and open discussion.” Unfortunately, in order to credit the information leak, Snowden needed to validate that he was the source. Had he anonymously released the documents, the information would be less credible. However, having information come directly from an NSA employee with the government top security clearance, strengthens the argument and gets more people to take the issue seriously.

The government maintains a lot personal information about its citizens. NSA is able to perform data mining on all this information. In a normal context, data mining is used to discover patterns and connect information across different data tables. However, the government has access to things like license information, biological information, and social security numbers. When this information is combined with data collected from ISPs and social medias like Google and Apple, the government has the ability to track nearly every online interaction or communication of everyone in the population. Maintaining this data is critical for these companies in order to generate profits through catered advertisements and relevant searches. Snowden believed that the population had a right to know this as it could greatly impact online behaviors, knowing that the government has access to every interaction [2].


Works Cited

[1] Levison, L. (2017, January 20). Lavabit. Retrieved April 23, 2017, from https://lavabit.com/

[2] “Citizenfour” (HBO Films, 2014) Poitras, L. (Director), & Bonnefoy, M. (Producer). (2014). Citizenfour [Video file]. United States: Radius-TWC. Retrieved April 1, 2017.