Edward Snowden is definitely not a hero, leading him to be a traitor. What Edward Snowden did was completely illegal and the US government charged him accordingly with “theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence.” The US government should not pardon him for any of these crimes because people need to be punished for this behavior. Although Snowden believes that he has done the right thing, he could have caused a lot more harm than intended. He truly trusts the journalists that he gave the confidential information to, but what if the journalists deceived him and publish everything? Releasing way more than what Snowden intended.
On June 5th, 2013, the first piece of information that was exposed was that the US government had forced the telecoms giant Verizon to hand over the phone records of millions of Americans. The following day, a story about a program called Prism was unveiled. The story discusses internal NSA documents that say Prism gives “direct access” to data held by big US technology companies (Apple, Google, etc,…). Although it is denied by the companies that the US government has this access, it makes someone curious. These are just two examples of the type of information that Snowden leaked to a couple reporters at The Guardian. Overall, it is reported that Snowden gave 9000 to 10000 top secret documents. Snowden exposed all the information he gathered to a couple of Guardian journalists, Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, and documentary film maker, Laura Poitras. This group met in Hong Kong for a week of interviews, which is where these documents were disclosed. What Snowden did was neither ethical nor moral. Yes, the act was completely illegal, but this act goes against many values that people have, especially values taught at Notre Dame. Snowden lies and steals, two things that go strongly against moral codes of Notre Dame. There are many ways for someone to release information, but this is not the correct way to do it.
Yes, what Snowden did is beneficial to the public. People do deserve to know, to an extent, what the NSA and US government are actually doing. It is also beneficial that Snowden did this to reveal how much cyber security in general is far behind in the technology world. After this, big technology companies stepped up their encryption techniques. However, I also believe that Snowden’s actions were not taken with the full effect in mind. Snowden says that he read everything that he gave reporters and that he truly trusted the reporters with all the information he gave them. Assuming the reporters were extremely trustworthy, how does he know it’s not possible that foreign government agencies are not reading all of the documents trusted to these journalists. This is what Michael Hayden believes in the article “Ex-CIA chief: What Edward Snowden did.” Hayden argues that foreign governments would have gathered all this information from the journalists, once they knew the journalists had it. This is just one of the issues that Snowden did not think about when giving the information to people who do not know much about encryption.
Personally, these revelations haven’t impacted me much. I’m not doing anything wrong or bad, so I don’t have to worry about what is being monitored. This also hasn’t changed my view on the government too much. It was understood, for the most part, that the government was monitoring people. What is beneficial is that Snowden revealed to what extent that the government was actually doing to monitor people. This changed my views on security and has led me to believe that nothing is truly secure.