Autoplay: ON Autoplay: OFF
CNET News Video
Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who helped Snowden expose the NSARevelations of government surveillance programs prompted a big change in US tech companies. It was about time, says Greenwald.
It was the first leak of top secret documents from the most secretive agency inside the worlds most powerful government ever. [MUSIC] The first time I started really reading through the documents I definitely did have a sense of the stoke What we had obtained. [BLANK_AUDIO] And so I had a pretty good idea that it was gonna make an extremely big impact, and would enable a lot of light to be shined on many thinks that have unjustifiably been hidden from the public for a really long time. [BLANK_AUDIO] [MUSIC] Obviously, there hasn't been a lot of change in terms of domestic law, the US hasn't Enacted a bunch of laws imposing upon itself Draconian limits about how it can spy. So I think a lot of times when people say what has really changed, they're thinking of that, I'm going to say it's still open it's still spying. The law that was passed is pretty modest, you can even say trivial in terms of what it changes. But we never thought that was where the real action is. Governments don't go around imposing huge amounts of limits on their own power. I think the much more significant changes have taken place in terms of individual consciousness, so people now understand the extent towards their privacies being compromised. They as a result, Canon are taking all kinds of precautions to safeguard the privacy of their own communications by massively increasing their encryption use which is taken place on every continent. [MUSIC] I mean, these companies for years were more than willing to just run rock shad over the privacy rights of their users. They didn't care in the slightest about any of that. They didn't just like Wake up one day and develop a conscience and say I think actually we're wrong and privacy is really important from this ethical or moral or political perspective. What changed was the market incentive. the fact that consumers are now demanding the privacy be safeguarded and refusing to use companies that won't do that. The US and the UK have now essentially launched a PR campaign To accuse Facebook and Google and Apple of being aiders and abettors of terrorist groups. Essentially being the best friend of ISIS, of having blood on their hands. These companies are not being bullied by that kind of rhetoric, as damaging as it might be. Because they fear, even more than that public relations campaign, a huge exodus of users who are not going to use their services, if they're perceived as partners of the NSA and the GCHQ. Well, so as far as encryption is concerned, obviously that is the key to defeating the surveillance state. And that's going to be the battle that is going to be with us for not just years, but decades to come. It's going to be like an arms race. On the one side you're going to see government agencies developing technologies to break encryption, to invade communication And then the other side against the private companies and privacy activists and others trying to use math to build a wall of numbers essentially around people's communication and keep the government and non-state actors out And so the awareness that is really crucial now, not to just tell individuals go use encryption, cause that's too complicated. But to have companies implant it, embed it in their product so that it's essentially automatic. [MUSIC] So, if you're in with the biggest companies, thinking about Google and Facebook and Apple. Are now. Probably the most powerful company in the world. More powerful than oil companies, or defense contractors. They have more money than those industries, they exert more power and their core business is collecting data. It's not like it's ancillary to their business. People think of Google. [INAUDIBLE] company that's going to collect data. No, google provides search capacity so that you use it, so that it can collect data about you. But it doesn't monetize it or sell it, or more importantly to analyze it so that they can understand how the human brain works so that they can develop artificial intelligence. Products and the like, which they see as the future. So I don't see a way, although it'd be great if it could be done. I don't see a plausible way, given that these companies are really more powerful than governments now, to curb the willingness and ability of these companies to collect data. So the fact that he has ended up not in US custody, not in prison, and most importantly of all, completely free to participate in the debate that he triggered around the world has been immensely positive for him and I think for every citizen concerned about these issues. And not only does he participate in these debates, he has become an extremely desired speaker. So he gives speeches, he participates in events, he writes columns, he does interviews, he does large platforms. And so as he's talked about before he's able to make a living, a good living actually. [MUSIC] I mean, I'm not sure that there is a way to avoid using these companies, short of removing yourself from the matrix all together. Interestingly, when I met with Edward Snowdon in Hong Kong and kept pressing him on his motives for why he was going to risk his liberty or even his life. To bring this information to the public, that's essentially what he said is that you know, especially someone his age who came of age already in the world of the internet. It's not this kind of ancillary technology that you can sort of choose to use or not use the way maybe if you're older you think of it as. It's really It's the window in which you interact with the world. It's unavoidable and to so to see that, he said compromise turned into a tool of oppression and course in control as opposed to this device of this innovation of liberation. And democratization. Was just so disturbing to him that he couldn't in good faith, in good conscience let that happen. So I don't think that there are ways to avoid these technologies. I think that what individual citizens can do is apply various pressure points to make sure that they can do so safely without having their privacy compromised.