Why do Edward Snowden’s revelations about mass internet and phone surveillance by America’s National Security Agency matter to you?

Say you don’t mind that every google search you do, every Facebook update you post, every gmail you send, every Skype call you make, is being sent through an NSA filter. You’re not a terrorist. You’re not an agitator or protester. You’re not a criminal. You’re just an ordinary citizen leading an ordinary life. Right?

Well, you have a right to privacy, and it’s a right that doesn’t need to be justified or explained. “You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide” is the thinking that leads to demanding defendants prove their innocence. Governments and companies must justify anything that breaches privacy. They rarely do.

How much do you trust agencies and governments when they operate entirely in secret? If it wasn’t for Edward Snowden, most of us would be unaware of the vast extent of NSA spying on Americans (and anyone else with an internet connection), because the US government shrouds its surveillance in secrecy.

How much do you trust agencies and governments when they use the information produced by surveillance not to chase terrorists, but to pursue journalists who have merely embarrassed them? That’s what the administration of Barack Obama has done.

When governments spy on their populations, and do so in secret, it is inevitable those actions will corrupt government and undermine a free media — as well as destroying the privacy to which citizens of democracies are entitled to.

Peter Fray

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