Woz: I feel 'a little guilty' about NSA surveillance

Appearing on CNN, Apple's co-founder says he admires Edward Snowden. He also worries that his own creations and those of fellow technologists have been used, as it were, against the people.

Somber mood.
CNN/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It's as if Michelangelo's paintings had been used to reinforce a religion he didn't believe in. Or something.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is continuing to bare his angst about the seemingly endless revelations concerning the National Security Agency's liberal use of technology.

Last week, he expressed his frustrations to Latin American journalists when they chatted with him at San Francisco Airport. He compared America to Russia.

Appearing on CNN with Piers Morgan on Thursday night, Woz revealed other emotions.

Asked whether he felt troubled that the inventions of technologists like himself were being used for potentially disturbing purposes, he said:

I actually feel a little guilty about that -- but not totally. We created the computers to free the people up, give them instant communication anywhere in the world. Any thought you had, you could share freely. That ... was going to overcome a lot of the government restrictions.

He now believes that privacy is dead. Tragically -- or, perhaps, naively -- he didn't see it coming.

"We didn't realize that in the digital world there were a lot of ways to use the digital technology to control us, to snoop on us, to make things possible that weren't," Woz said.

It seems odd that a brilliant technologist wouldn't have imagined that his creation could fall into hands he might describe as soiled. It is often said that the military and the porn industry are always in the vanguard of technological progress.

Woz, however, harked back to a more pristine -- at least in his eyes -- world: "In the old days of mailing letters, you licked it, and when you got an envelope that was still sealed, nobody had seen it. You had private communication. Now they say, because it's e-mail, it cannot be private. Anyone can listen."

Dressed very somberly in all-black, Woz also expressed his admiration for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and compared him to Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

Woz said that Ellsberg had changed his life and "taught me a lot."

He also intimated that the government has been involved in criminal acts: "Read the facts. It's government of, by and for the people. We own the government. We are the ones who pay for it and then we discover something that our money is being used for -- that just can't be, that level of crime."

Oh, but with technology, many things can be. All it really takes is a few engineers to show you how.