NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gave a remote talk today about how the U.S. election — and Donald Trump’s grim victory — will impact privacy rights and mass surveillance in the U.S. and abroad.
When asked about the U.S. election results, Snowden’s response was quite broad: “What we need to start thinking about now is not how do we defend against a president Donald Trump, but how do we defend the rights of everyone, everywhere.”
“If we want to have a better world,” Snowden said, “we shouldn’t hope for an Obama, and we shouldn’t fear a Donald Trump, rather we should build it ourselves.”
And with regard to how the election may help or hurt his case, Snowden, who is still wanted by the FBI, said, “I am the least important part of any of this. This is not about me. This is about us.”
The current president of the United States campaigned on a platform of ending mass surveillance in the United States … and we all put a lot of hope in him because of this … It was a moment where we believed that because the right person got into office everything would change, but unfortunately once he took office we saw he didn’t actually fulfill those promises…
This is to talk about a broader point which is, we should be cautious about putting too much faith, or fear, into elected officials. If we want to make sure that the rights that we have encoded into our laws are actually reliable, this will never be the work of politicians. This will only be the work of the people. Ultimately, if we want to see a change, we must force it through ourselves.
Later Snowden added:
I think despite the challenges we have in the United States, despite changes in government, despite some of the very concerning statements made by our new president-elect, this is a nation that will strive to get better. This is a dark moment in our nation’s history, but it is not the end of history. And if we work together, we can build something better, and we can enjoy a more free and more liberal society that benefits everyone, and prove once and for all the America has a greater commitment to justice than it does simply to the law.