Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

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Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Mrs Figg on Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:41 pm

hey guys I have been following this fascinating 'spy story' (I can see it being made into a film sooner or later). what do you guys think about him, is he a traitor of doing a public service? I would like to know what you guys from the US think about it all, and anyone who knows more about this story.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:48 pm

Seems to me a classic case- goverment does illegal dodgy stuff against its own people- whistle gets blown on it- government silences whistleblower.

Truth is our authorities do dodgy, immoral things all the time in the name of 'security' and a 'country''s interets'- a story has just broke today in the UK about the black teenager Stephen Lawrence who died at the hands of police- and how the police undercover unit infiltrated his family campagn for jusice in order to try to smear their name and make them seem to lack credibility0 all done to innocent grieving parents trying to get justice done to 'protect public safety and prevent rioting'.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by halfwise on Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:58 pm

He's part of a new breed - cyber idealists who are typically young and grew up feeling information should be a transparent force for good.

I personally don't think he did anything all that bad: how can any lives be threatened by revealing the US government is retaining access to a bit more information than we suspect?  And people are used to giving up more information than they really bother to think about to private companies.

I agree with him that we should know the government is doing this, but I'm not convinced the information is so critical it's worth ruining his life for.  I admire him, but also think he should be prosecuted simply because if you don't prosecute the floodgates will open and who knows what much more seriously damaging information may get out.  But I think all he deserves is a few years at most: this simply was not tactically damaging information.

I guess it gives certain people we'd like to catch enough knowledge to be more circumspect, but that's what cyber warfare is - a continuously escalating game.  These people should suspect their conversations are being tapped anyway, else they are such dumbasses they will be caught sooner or later by other methods.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Mrs Figg on Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:01 pm

do you think he should be allowed into Ecador? I dont actually know much about the details as the news here only gives an outline, what kind of information did he take? and what was it about exactly?

edit, sorry I didnt see your post above Halfy.


Last edited by Mrs Figg on Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:29 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by halfwise on Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:26 pm

This may be the best source of information so far:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/17/edward-snowden-nsa-files-whistleblower

Snowden with the guardian set himself up for a public cyber interview.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Mrs Figg on Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:33 pm

I wonder how we would feel if he had stolen critical information about say chemical weapons or something that threatened world health. It could be that a vigilante takes information that leads to powers using that information to construct dirty weapons. Its a slippy slope.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by halfwise on Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:58 pm

He seems to be careful about what information he divulged.  He's only a threat by possibly encouraging other less morally constrained copycats.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Eldorion on Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:56 pm

halfwise wrote:He seems to be careful about what information he divulged.  He's only a threat by possibly encouraging other less morally constrained copycats.

I think it's more likely that he was inspired by Bradley Manning, who was the opposite of careful. Laughing Snowden appears to be much smarter about how he's going about this, both in terms of what he's revealing and in covering his own ass. I applaud his whistleblowing, and I think it's shameful that Obama has made such a complete 180 from his previous position of endorsing protection for whistleblowers.
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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Eldorion on Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:59 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Seems to me a classic case- goverment does illegal dodgy stuff against its own people- whistle gets blown on it- government silences whistleblower.

Part of the problem is that most of what the NSA has done is legal under US law. Part of that is down to shitty post-9/11 legislation like the Patriot Act, but unfortunately this is nothing new. For example, Snowden will be charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 (if he's caught), which is a blatantly unconstitutional piece of legislation that was passed during a shameful period of American democracy during WWI anti-German hysteria.
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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:04 pm

A major problem for America though is they are snooping on other cuntries citizens- where it is not legal at all.
For me the reason the government has turned on him so definitely is not what he has given away in tems risking operations- as has been poited he has been very careful tee, not revealing procedures or the programs used beyond their names- but in terms of a game of poker with other countries he just gave everyone else an ace.
Now when the US tells China about its human rights they can say what about you snooping on everyone like a dictaorship, flauting other countries laws ect.
It weakens Americas international bargaining and its public authority on global moral issues.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Eldorion on Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:22 pm

Yeah, no doubt Russia, China, and other countries that are jockeying for position with the US are pleased by this development. I don't think this weakens the U.S.'s moral authority much more than the War on Terror or Guantanamo already did. And I have no doubt that the U.S.'s closest allies were already aware of this.
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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:24 pm

I was thinking more their moral voice with those countries public, rather than their governemnts- certainly our government knew about it and were sharing info with the US.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Eldorion on Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:26 pm

I see your point, but this is hardly the most reprehensible thing the US government has done in the past decade. I'm glad that awareness is being raised about abuses and misconduct, though.
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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:29 pm

the most reprehensible thing the US government has done in the past decade.- Eldo

As reprehensible no, but potentially effecting more everyday people in differnt countries- its closer to home-it makes people think the US might be spying on them personally.
In that sense I think its much worse than Iraq or prisons or any of that in terms of international gaffe.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by halfwise on Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:31 pm

Umm...all countries have an espionage service.  It's just a question of who is being surveilled.  Intercepting other government's communications would be considered legit by everyone (because they don't want to admit they've been cracked, and don't want to admit they are doing it themselves, hence easier to just leave it alone).  I'm sure most governments that have the capability are conducting surveillance against foreign citizens that fit a certain profile.  People may want to make hash about this, but in my opinion complaining about other governments surveiling outside citizens for national security issues is being naive and silly.

Two things fall outside this: collecting information from private companies for economic warfare, as China does; or surveilling one's own citizens without transparent safeguards in place.  In the case of what Snowden revealed, the second was the case BUT safeguards were in place.  What wasn't in place was transparency, and Snowden took care of that.

From what I can gather there are careful legal safeguards, but because of the secrecy in which they take place they are completely fallible.  By shining daylight on it Snowden did us a service, but I think he was going over the top by basically sacrificing his life for it.  Noble, and perhaps more effective, but the government really was trying to do the right thing in this case, just being too secretive about it.  Again for somewhat justifiable reasons of operational effectiveness, but the give and take between effectiveness and transparency had perhaps gone too far.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:35 pm

In the past there was a principle that you were treated as innocent until he authroties had reason to think otherwise- then they hd to go to a judge  to get the right to take actions.
From what I can tell this trawls everyone- treating everyone as a potential criminal then finding stuff without the right from a judge- then going to the judge.
Thats seems worng to me- it might be effective at countering terrorism- but so is putting microchips under everyones skin, or locking everyone up.
It comes back to the old dilemna of how much of our rights and freedoms do we give up to protect our rights and freedoms.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by halfwise on Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:48 pm

There is a system of warrants and judges for what Snowden revealed, but it was all in secret.  He was also complaining about the ease with which he could listen in without getting a warrant: totally against the system, but all too easy to do.  This in my mind is the bigger problem - the technology is so accessible that normal check and balance systems can be too easily circumvented.  More transparency will lead people to review the process in a way they could shrug off before.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:55 pm

Yes but the judge doesnt come into it until after they have trawled everyone for something to look closer at. That is the wrong way round traditionally.
I dont really see how thats any different from the argument that if you put a camera in every room in everyones house you could prevent child and domestic abuse in the home.
You could but it would still be a huge infringment on everyones privacy who is not acting criminally.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by halfwise on Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:05 pm

the difference is the protection provided by the huge amount of information.  Nobody is listening in until the automated data mining alarms go off, at which point they go to a judge who then allows actual people to listen in.

It's technically similar to your camera in every room, except that a computer has to analyze the images, it produces a mathematical statement of probability that something may be wrong, a judge has to look over this mathematical statement and give final approval before the drooling deviants in the NSA basement can view the tape.  I have no problem with that IF the system works.  One of Snowden's main complaints is that it's too easy to dodge the system.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:08 pm

So if computers monitored the camera images and not people until it flagged up something- youd be happy to have the government install a camera in every room in your house?
Becuase I dont see the difference.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:11 pm

Not to mention it creates a potential massive database open to hacking, abuse by officials- you could blackmail, embezzel, rob, pretty much everything- completely destroy people- information is power- always has been- and we are giving the people who govern us potentially all our information.

Now imagine someone is arguing a cause the governement doesnt like, speaking out agaist something they are doing- all too easy now to tap into the info and either manipulate it or find personal emails, private mesages ect that are compromising.
Its just way to dangerous to even give governments potentail access to that amount of info on an individual who may never have committed a crime.

Imagine a Stalin with this sort of information on every citizen- it doesnt bear thinking of.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by halfwise on Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:27 pm

That's pretty much Snowden's point.

But I think the difference between the creepy camera and the phone/email thing is that the phone and email are not 24/7.  Yes, it is bothersome that there may be trip phrases that invite investigation, but how is this different from the police watching you outside your house until they gather enough evidence for a warrant to listen in?  I'd say that phone and email are not private in the way that person to person communication is.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:34 pm

I'd say that phone and email are not private in the way that person to person communication is.- Halfwise

And what about private messages? What web pages you visit? What you look at on any page. What your political allegiances are? ect ect


I always look to history, and every government in history, whether tolitarian or democracy share the same aims- to maintain the structures of power and society, to put down dissent and solidify their own power base.
Why we think our modern governments have turned over a new leaf I have no idea- I dont see any evidence of it, only that they have got better at it.

So it would be prudent to assume current governments use information in the same way as all their forebearers- and in those circumstances allowing those who govern us to gather this potential mass of information on us is very, very dangerous.

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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by David H on Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:25 pm

I think this is exactly the kind of debate that Snowden wanted to start.  I don't think many people doubt that the next major war will be fought on the cyber frontier, or that it has become an open playground for pretty much every crime imaginable so there is a need to police and defend.  But the potential power that goes with controlling that much information is beyond the wildest dreams of even the most megalomaniacal cartoon villain of 30 years ago. There need to be checks, and the checks need to be democratically instituted and regularly reviewed or Democracy will fail sooner rather than later.

It's curious to me how secret courts and 24 hr surveillance where exactly the things we pointed to in Stalinist USSR as the way Americans as free people would never want to live, and what George Orwell was warning of before that, yet how complacent people have become in only one or two generations. 

I think Snowden has made a difficult choice for the right reasons. I got the impression that he expects to be tried and probably convicted at some point. I was quite favorably impressed when he identified himself so that the manhunt for his identity wouldn't eclipse the debate over the actual issues. As he's moving around right now, I think that's still his primary goal: to not distract from the debate.
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Re: Edward Snowden: Robin Hood or just robber?

Post by Mrs Figg on Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:38 pm

surveilance is a double edged sword, we like the idea of the 'bad guys' being monitored and terrorist sleeper cells getting smoked out by secret filming and spy satelites and phone tapping, but when that strays into everyday life we go 'hold up, that is wrong'. we are happy when cctv catches drunk drivers and Street violence, but when we are followed round town while we do the daily shopping we feel invaded. its normal for gvts to survey their 'suspect citizens and foreign nationals with dodgy pasts, but its another thing sweeping surveilance of law abiding people. its very tricky territory

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