NYTimes | Edward Snowden, a former Central Intelligence Agency worker who disclosed on Sunday that he was the one who leaked government surveillance documents to The Guardian newspaper, ranks high among the disturbed. In an interview with the newspaper, he called the Internet “the most important invention in all of human history.” But he said that he believed its value was being destroyed by unceasing surveillance.
“I don’t see myself as a hero,” he told the paper, “because what I’m doing is self-interested: I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity.”
President Obama, trying to play down the uproar, said Prism targets only foreign nationals and that it was worth giving up a little privacy for more security.
“I think that’s a dangerous statement,” said Bob Taylor, a computer scientist who played a major role in the 1960s in formulating what would become the Internet. “The government should have told us it was doing this. And that suggests the more fundamental problem: that we’re not in control of our government.”
For some tech luminaries with less than fond feelings for Washington, the disclosures about Prism had special force. This was personal.
Bob Metcalfe, the acclaimed inventor of the standard method of connecting computers in one location, wrote on Twitter that he was less worried about whatever the National Security Agency might be doing “than about how Obama Regime will use their data to suppress political opposition (e.g. me).”
But if Silicon Valley is alarmed about the ways that the personal data now coursing through every byway of the Internet can be misused, it has been a long time coming.