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Global Center for Security Studies
It is not an exaggeration to say that Edward Snowden is one the most important whistle blowers in the history. After going public, he has become a household name, capturing and changing minds with his revelations about the activities of the National Security Agency (NSA). With his exposure, it has turned out that the NSA, as one of the most significant federal intelligence agencies in the US, having tentacles all around the world, has been collecting data of not only the adversaries of the US, but of its own citizens and its closest allies. These revelations have caused a great deal of uproar across the world and publicly embarrassed the US on the global stage by exposing how the US federal agencies operate within a culture of impunity, with little to no significant oversight mechanisms.
That’s why it is no surprising to see that there are a number of books written on Edward Snowden, one of which is “The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man”, authored by a British writer Luke Harding. In this book, you get the true story of who is Edward Snowden, what he did, and why he dared to come forward against the most powerful country in the world. Harding explains how the US government has abused its authority in spying with collecting data on millions of people in the US and around the world, and also shows that how the US government tried to cover up its abuses when caught off guard. It is not exaggeration to say that this book is in no way going to be an obsolete one in several more years, but rather something that is very relevant to the times we live in. Therefore, this is an exceptional read and recommended to anyone who is interested in Snowden's story. In this book, Luke Harding sheds light on that Snowden acted with his self-conscience and always thought that he was right what he did. As the debate still rages on as to whether he is simply a ‘treator’ who betrayed his country or a ‘saint’ that revealed how much of a reach the US has into people’s lives via its security apparatus, the revelations have helped awaken the millions of people in the US and around world, who were unaware of relentless intrusion into their privacy by the US government. The book delves into these arguments, and also presents the reactions from the key people involved with Snowden's story.
Beside telling the true story of Snowden, the Snowden Files illustrates the dilemma and hard choice that is looming over our everyday life: safety versus privacy. We understand that in the age of terror, states cannot tolerate any menace to its citizens and need to take necessary actions in case of imminent threats. However, the main point that is necessary to be discussed is the fact that whether the ethical boundaries of these actions are more important than the legal justifications. In other words, to what extend and under what circumstances is the massive spying on its own citizens acceptable? Are we ready to give up easily our freedom for security, and is invasion of privacy not a matter of concern for us? After 9/11, even the citizens of the most democratic countries are indifferent about their governments’ assault of basic rights, which are under the guaranty of their constitutions since the enlightenment era. In a way, Harding’s book is a sobering reminder of these disturbing realities that any government in the world, even the most democratic one, is needed to be restrained if the fundamental rights, such as privacy, are compromised.
Off course, not everyone is on the side of Snowden. The critics from the security and intelligence circles claim that the backlash following the Snowden revelations has enhanced the discord between the US and Europe on the gathering and sharing data. In this way, the revelations have put the millions of peoples’ life into danger and caused more harm than good, according to them.
On the other hand, it is asserted by some liberal groups that although Snowden’s actions have an impact in terms of public perception on digital privacy, they did not change much behavior of anyone else. There has even been a significant escalation of electronic espionage around the world and the threat to privacy has also evolved with the fact that the Snowden exposures have emboldened other governments to apply more overt forms of electronic surveillance.
No matter what anyone says about Edward Snowden and the impacts of his revelations as well his intentions, it is certain that he has left an indelible mark and therefore it is worth reading the Harding’s book, “The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man”.