Edward Snowden – LiveLeaks interview

On LiveLeaks you can view the full interview of Edward Snowden done by Norddeutscher Rundfunk, a German television broadcaster, watch it here: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f93_1390833151.

Early in the interview Edward Snowden refers to a Buzzfeed article where government officials has been interviewed and they’ve shared their thoughts about Edward Snowden and what they think should be done with him. What’s really interesting is that many of those officials say that they wants to shoot Edward Snowden. Although what he’s done may not be correct from their point of view, that’s a little harsh I think.

Snowden also shared his own thoughts on what he’s done, and he states that what he’s done is in the public’s interest. He felt that he had to do what he did, what he’s released is in, again, the best public’s interest.

Obama hasn’t said much regarding Snowden, but he has, in the time after the unauthorized disclosures, talked a lot more about surveillance, NSA and national security. On Friday 17th 2014, Obama said the following regarding Snowden’s case: “Given the fact of an open investigation, I’m not going to dwell on Mr. Snowden’s actions or motivations”. Meaning since it’s an open investigation he wouldn’t talk about that particular case.

He also said: “If any individual who objects to government policy can take it in their own hands to publicly disclose classified information, then we will never be able to keep our people safe, or conduct foreign policy.”

Although I won’t state my own thoughts I will say this: if the American government had been more transparent with what they did they would’ve probably been in a different situation today.

During the interview done by the German reporters Snowden hints to more German officials being wiretapped, with that we can probably expect that more non-German officials are also being tapped.

What I find really interesting is what he says about a program called XKEYSCORE (XKS). Which is basically a program where you could get access of all the information you could possibly want. 

He describes it as follows:
“You could read anyone’s email in the world, anybody you’ve got an email address for. Any website: You can watch traffic to and from it. Any computer that an individual sits at: You can watch it. Any laptop that you’re tracking: you can follow it as it moves from place to place throughout the world. It’s a one-stop-shop for access to the NSA’s information.

He adds:
“…You can tag individuals… Let’s say you work at a major German corporation and I want access to that network, I can track your username on a website on a form somewhere, I can track your real name, I can track associations with your friends and I can build what’s called a fingerprint, which is network activity unique to you, which means anywhere you go in the world, anywhere you try to sort of hide your online presence, your identity.”

XKS is described as a system with different user interfaces, a bunch of back-end databases and servers. The system apparently gathers information that the NSA already has gathered and gives the end-user easy access to everything. Snowden’s description is basically a system where you can search for and get access to information once believed to be secure and only shared between two parties.

The system, XKS, is being shared with other intelligence & spy agencies among others we have Australia’s Defense Signals Directorate, New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau and the German Bundesnachrichtendienst. This means that it’s not only the US that has access to your email, but also agencies in other countries.

As a computer enthusiast I would love to know how it all works, because this is crazy!

Although we unknowingly known a lot of what Snowden leaked it still came as a shock to basically the whole world. He is now in Russia, after he got granted asylum there. He applied for asylum in many European countries but no one would grant him asylum in fear of getting off on the wrong foot with The United States.

Finally, as an assignment I’ve been asked to answer whether or not I agree with Snowden’s decisions. I think that’s a difficult question, I would say that I’m all for what’s in the public’s best interest. Obama should think the same, and I think it’s important that he’s been more transparent regarding what they’re doing in terms of tracking and surveillance of the public. Lastly, my final thoughts – I think what Snowden has done is important and although I may not agree with all of his methods I think he has done the general public a favor.

2 thoughts on “Edward Snowden – LiveLeaks interview

  1. Yes that sums up my thoughts as well. It is interesting that they are able to do all this with the use of computers. And he did mentions industrial espionage as well as far as i recall.

    • Yes, I think the general public has no real idea what the IT-systems are capable of – if that’s a good thing is arguable. One thing I think is important is transparency – the governments have to be open to the public about what kind of info they’re gathering, an open discussion is always important.

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