As you’ve probably heard already, Ed Snowden delivered a videotaped holiday message via Laura Poitras to Channel 4 in the U.K. If you can tolerate the cotton mouth and, of course, the pious self-worshipping egomania, here’s the full video:
What jumped out at me right away was this line: “Recently we learned that our governments, working in concert, have created a system of worldwide system of mass surveillance watching everything we do.”
Watching everything we do? Literally everything? Wow — the National Security Agency is in my computer, in my kitchen, in my car, in my bathroom watching everything I do? For months now, many of us have been batting down the idea that NSA or GCHQ, for that matter, is interested in your Wonka memes or the the content of your Bitstrips. It’s not — at least not without probable cause and an individual warrant approved by judges on the FISA Court.
Activists like Snowden want you to believe that NSA is directly, and without court approval, spying on you personally, because hyperbole like this feeds an agenda that involves scaring anyone susceptible to anti-government paranoia. But this quote from Snowden goes beyond anything we’ve read about so far, saying point blank that the government is watching everything we do.
However, if this is true, Glenn Greenwald or another Snowden flack needs to reveal any and all evidence that NSA has installed cameras and listening devices in our homes and is actively observing and recording our daily activities without warrants. Again, “watching everything we do” is a major revelation, but if evidence doesn’t exist, Snowden needs to issue a clarification.
UPDATE: A few more thoughts on Snowden’s video.
He’s seriously trying to incite the hair-trigger paranoiacs out there. For example: “A child born today will… never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought.” So eventually the government will soon have the capability to read our minds and analyze our thoughts? All of our thoughts? Not just the ones we post to public websites like Twitter and Facebook, etc? Wow! The government’s getting into the business of recording all the thoughts of 314 million Americans. Sure, it’s a scary notion but it’s amazing technology. Tell us more, Ed!
Also, this: “We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go.” This makes it sound as if the government has absconded off with our pants, implanted creepy spying sensors in our pants pockets, then returned our pants to us without us knowing. Or maybe the government planted the sensors at the pants factory, you know, wherever they make the pants.
In truth, yes there are phones in the pants pockets of Americans who can voluntarily afford to buy phones and to subscribe to a service through which we can voluntarily turn on “location services” so we can check-in with our friends on Facebook, bragging about the awesome restaurant where we’re having lunch. The word to underscore here is voluntarily. There’s nothing compulsory about buying an iPhone or an Android. And if you do, you can turn off the GPS feature. The so-called “sensors” are “tracking” us because we buy them and put them in our pockets ourselves.(h/t Kush Arora)