I can’t stand the overused and ridiculous use of the word “hero” in the US media.  With that said, Edward Snowden is a hero that has done the US and the world an incredible service.  Will it matter?  I sure hope so.  If you haven’t seen it, watch this interview he gave the Guardian.

I’ve been a big proponent of freedom and privacy for a long time, and it’s often disappointing to me that many others just don’t seem to care.  But the reason they don’t is understandable.  They don’t get it because they don’t see it.  Although I’ve never worked for the US government, I have seen (better than most) what big organizations with massive spying capability and data collection can and will do.  I’ve watched as Google has wiped out countless businesses without even a shred of caring.  In their fight against “spammers” they actively penalize websites and small businesses for past actions, actions that are beyond the control of the website/business owners.  The businesses that get destroyed are simply “collateral damage”.

(Before anyone objects that there is no other way for them to fight this fight, there is.  The difference between rewarding sites for positive signals and punishing sites for negative signals, particularly when those signals can be provided by less ethical competitors, is the difference between being responsible and careless, if not pathological.  And additionally, business owners who don’t have cutting edge information can inadvertently run afoul of Google, or can get nailed when Google changes their standards for what is and was acceptable.)

Where does this tie in with Edward Snowden and what the US government has been doing?  The US government is similarly (but on a far greater scale and with far more potential for much worse “collateral damage”) collecting comprehensive data on everyone.  As Snowden said, it’s not only what is being done now, but everything you’ve ever done in the past.  What you’ve bought, who you’ve talked to on the phone, who you’ve emailed, what you’ve said.  It’s all being stored.

But you’re not doing anything bad, so you don’t have to worry, right?  Tell that to the small businesses that have been wiped out by Google for going against guidelines or algorithmic mumbo jumbo they’ve never even heard of.  How about the Jews in Europe?  They weren’t doing anything bad until the Nazis decided they were.  What happens if or when Google, Apple, or the US government decides that you or someone you know is connected to someone who is “bad”?  And what happens if they’re just wrong?  You may just be acceptable collateral damage.

Combine that with secret courts, renditions, secret prisons, and unmanned drones blowing people (and anyone that happens to be near them) into minced meat, and you’ve got a pretty nasty picture forming.  In the west we often hear about the surveillance state in countries like China.  Is the US really all that different?  Or, are we just so addicted to the technology, so brainwashed by the propaganda, that we don’t realize that our government is no different?

Hopefully, people will listen to what Edward Snowden has to say, broadcast it to all their friends via their constantly monitored social networks and smart devices, where Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Google, and countless others will log and save your communications in case they want to punish you later.  Is this really the world we want to live in?

Edward Snowden is a fucking hero.  Sign the WhiteHouse.gov petition to have him pardoned, here.

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