Thursday, July 4, 2013

Edward Snowden and Diminished Results

In my work over the years on a number of “interesting projects” and working with a number of “interesting people”, I have seen my share of things that frighten me for the future of society.  People who know me know that many of the projects I have worked on keep me awake at night and I have occasionally had warnings issued to me for voicing an opinion that came close to but didn’t cross any boundaries or violate any covenants.

I am reminded of this when I post a musing to call attention to something a public official has done that I believe is wrong.  I can always tell when my blog has struck a nerve because that’s when the number of lawyers reading my blog peaks sharply as it did this week with my post Politics and the Fortuitousness of Calamity as people explore ways to quiet inconvenient truths.

The one thing I am cognizant of whenever I share information or an opinion is that I make sure I stay within the facts, I do it forcefully but respectfully, I do it to encourage dialog, I do it to encourage people to think and I do it to encourage people to consider the greater good and the importance of creating a stronger society for future generations.

Creating paranoia or fear, causing people to feel physically threatened, creating opportunities for evil people via one’s sense of self realization or getting consumed by a sense of “hero” serves no one.

And yet I think that Mr. Snowden has devolved into this state, appearing more to be serving his own needs rather than the needs of the people he claims to be helping.  I don’t  see any positive result or momentum for positive change outside of the noise that he has created in angry people who were already angry about other things before Mr. Snowden hatched his plan.  “Noise” in absence of data and an intelligent strategic intention that serves others rarely produces a positive result for anyone outside of the person who is creating the noise and in fact, it often hurts more people than it helps.

He serves as a warning to any of us who feel compelled to call the world as we see it – that we make sure that our actions are always focused on the greater good, that we don’t create a greater fear or anger in people without a suggestion for a solution and that we don’t expose others to greater danger merely because it serves our own need or sense of self-righteousness.

On this July 4th, we remember that the great nation of the United States of America was built upon the principles of dialog, justice, collaboration, public accountability and service to fellow citizens and the world.

We need to honor the founding fathers by making sure that we protect and use these principles proactively and wisely and that we not rely on someone else to do it on our behalf.

After all, what happens if the people acting on our behalf are wrong or create an injustice under the guise of creating social justice?

Create a great July 4th.

In service and servanthood,


Addendum – Sharing a Conversation – July 4, 2013

Sharing an exchange from another social media platform, responding to questions that reflect the responses of a few people who made similar comments.  The >> reflect the comments of a reader.

>>If Mr. Snowden had never revealed the broad spectrum of personal data that the NSA was collecting then no dialog could exist

Anyone who has been reading the news since the 90s has known of the extent of the data collection efforts, including programs such as Echelon and others.  While the programs existed in the 60s, they became common knowledge in the 80s / 90s.  In the late 90s, some of us used to play with Echelon by sending emails that were innocent to a human being but which we knew would trip up a computer.  Back then, emails which were suspicious were often delayed before delivery for a variety of reasons and so we used to send two emails concurrently, one with tricky content and one with normal content and time how long it would take for the tricky one to arrive.

>> I believe it's closer to the level of promoting dialog, collaboration, and public accountability than inciting fear.

Do you honestly believe that what he has done will produce dialog of value?  What is happening RIGHT NOW is that escalation of surveillance is taking place, watching things that didn't even come out in Snowden's exposure.  So the breadth and width of surveillance is increasing and changing as I write this.  Has this helped your privacy or further hampered it?

>> Honestly, he gave up his whole life and livelihood for this exposure. He will be living on the run or in asylum from here on

He admitted that he signed up for the program in order to steal the information and reveal it.  He knew what would happen, taking actions that are considered treasonous under current laws.

>> Mr. Snowden himself is quoted as stating that his intention was to create a dialog that would hopefully change the programs and practices that exist.

Because of my background, I can describe techniques for getting bombs on planes and for stealing your bank information.  How would you like it if I describe it on the web in order to encourage dialog around airline security and security of your financial information?

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