Few figures have been as divisive and so quickly catapulted to the world stage than Snowden. To some he is the epitome of a “traitor”, vilified for revealing “secrets” that some say could compromise “national security”. Others revere him as a hero, we learned about surveillance of phone conversations, storage of metadata and secret government operations . Conspiracy theorists have long believed that the government covertly collected information on its citizens. To our surprise- an unassuming a contractor seemingly had the “keys to the kingdom” and revealed those secrets to the world. On the one hand some of the details were shocking. Who knew that so much information was obtained about U.S. citizens? More importantly, why? Many asked, “why would the government want to listen to my phone calls”? Why is my information being stored? What else is being collected and stored? These questions may never be answered– but it fueled a healthy debate as to “the right to privacy.” Do we really have privacy? When surveillance and other techniques are utilized in the name of “national security” when is enough..enough? Should there be more oversight in the intelligence community? Who determines what is enough? None of these are easy questions, nor will they be answered without a great deal of debate!
As in the past, most privacy legislation has been enacted in response to something that has happened. Whether Eric Snowden is viewed as a “traitor” or “hero” his actions have created a timely and relevant debate on “the right to privacy.” Privacy advocates have been leading the charge! The “privacy debate” is at the forefront and will likely result in additional reform. More oversight is necessary to ensure that data collection is proportional to the need and protects from carte blanche to our private information. What do you think?