‘Permanent Record’ is Edward Snowden’s recent autobiography, and a fascinating insight into US government internet surveillance. The preface opening sets the frame nicely:
“My name is Edward Joseph Snowden. I used to work for the government, but now I work for the public. It took me nearly three decades to recognise that there was a distinction, and when I did, it got me into a bit of trouble at the office. As a result, I now spend my time trying to protect the public from the person I used to be a – a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA), just another young technologist out to build what I was sure would be a better world.
My career in the American Intelligence Community (IC) only lasted a short seven years, which I’m surprised to realise is just one year longer than the time I’ve since spent in exile in a country that wasn’t my choice. During that seven-year stint, however, I participated in the most significant change in the history of American espionage – the change from targeted surveillance of individuals to the mass surveillance of entire populations. I helped make it technologically feasible for a single government to collect all the world’s digital communications, store them for ages, and search through them at will.”
His revelations make ‘deep state’ conspiracy theories redundant. You have to respect a man who has risked his life, a long prison sentence, and accepted exile – to tell the truth, and ring warning bells for the world. And admire his commitment to cherished principles. It’s surprising he’s been left alive!
Snowden tells his story in an engaging and honest way. We also learn about a generation whose adult lives were shaped by the arrival of the internet and its rapid morphing from collegial, nerd-sharing space to today’s ubiquitous world worrying web. A Must-Read!
When public elects government to protect them and government tries to exile people who tries to protect the public, I believe that’s when you say, democracy has died.
Thanks for this timely review. Interesting that we are supposed to believe we are in a ‘post truth’ world and shouldn’t worry, nothing and everything is or could be real, the Morrison’s almighty or technology will save us; yet the security and consumption domains are under no such illusion – they just love to gobble up as many hard facts surveiling us as they possibly can. And then use AI, (that work in progress), to ‘approximate’ with sometimes significant consequences, (vid their use and misuse of facial recognition), something of the ultimate meaning of it all.