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Edward Snowden gets crowdsourced support

Campaigns are underway online to raise support -- and cash -- for the recently revealed source who leaked details of the NSA's PRISM program.

The crowd is pitching in to get Snowden's back.
Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

The crowd has Edward Snowden's back, but will it be a big enough posse to keep him out of hot water with the federal government?

With revelations this past week that the National Security Agency has been surveying all sorts of electronic communications in a sort of involuntary crowdsourcing campaign, perhaps it's not surprising that the crowd is now coming to the aid of the whistleblower who revealed the NSA's classified surveillance program called PRISM.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper insists that PRISM, which allegedly gives the NSA some degree of access to data passing though Internet companies in the U.S., is lawful and authorized by Congress. He called the leak "reckless."

But the acknowledgment and defense of the surveillance program by the Obama administration hasn't stopped members of the crowd from organizing to support the 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA who has been revealed (apparently at his own request) as the source of the leak.

"I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions," he told the Guardian from Hong Kong.

That's probably true, unless President Obama feels compelled to pardon Snowden for any crimes he may have committed.

Although Snowden has yet to be charged with anything, that push for pardoning has already begun on the official WhiteHouse.gov petition site. The "Pardon Edward Snowden" petition reads:

Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs.

As of this writing, the petition has just over 16,000 digital signatures since being created on Sunday, but it needs about 84,000 more to prompt a response from the White House. Of course, President Obama is in no way compelled to comply with the crowd's wishes, but it does at least prompt a public (if premature) statement on Snowden's fate.

While the petition doesn't hold much weight in the real world, a separate crowdfunding campaign on the site CrowdTilt aims to collect some real-world cash as a "reward" for Snowden for "courageously leaking NSA docs."

Facebook employee and Silicon Valley reality TV show star Dwight Crow started the campaign to raise $15,000, explaining on the campaign page:

We should set a precedent by rewarding this type of extremely courageous behavior. It's definitely apparent that legal fees may soon be a big part of his future, but I don't care how he uses the funds raised, whether it's for a business-class trip to Iceland or just to pay his hotel bills...

With nine days to go, the campaign is about a third of the way to its $15,000 goal.

What do you think? Will you be joining either of these crowdsourced efforts to support Snowden? Let us know in the comments.