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Edward Snowden is a Hero or A Criminal Essay
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Edward Snowden is a hero or a criminal
Edward Snowden, a low-level private contractor to the US-based National Security Agency (NSA), breached moral confidentiality and secrecy obligations by engaging in unauthorized accessing, retrieving and/or releasing of a large volume of confidential data from NSA to the press and, possibly, to foreign powers. Edward Snowden (born June 21, 1983) is a computer programmer who worked as a subcontractor for the National Security Agency (NSA). Snowden collected top-secret documents regarding NSA domestic surveillance practices that he found disturbing and leaked them.
During his years of IT work, Snowden had noticed the far reach of the NSA’s everyday surveillance. “While working for Booz Allen, Snowden began copying top-secret NSA documents.” (Biography.com, 2019) After he had compiled a large store of documents, Snowden told his NSA supervisor that he needed a leave of absence for medical reasons, stating he had been diagnosed with epilepsy. On May 20, 2013, Snowden took a flight to Hong Kong, China. (Biography.com, 2019)
As mentioned by author Rouse in her article referring, he leaked and also raised questions about data sovereignty and how secure a company’s data really is if it’s stored by a cloud provider based in the United States. In 2014, almost 90% of respondents to a survey commissioned by security consultancy NTT Communications said they were changing their cloud-buying behavior as a result of Snowden’s revelations. Just over half said they are carrying out greater due diligence on cloud providers than ever before, and more than four-fifths responded that they would seek out more training on data protection laws. (Rouse, 2015)
Snowden has also been accused of irregularities under the Espionage Law for knowingly discovering mysterious national security data. When these charges were opened, newspapers quickly guaranteed that he was accused of undercover work. Such cases are not exactly accurate. Undercover work is commonly characterized as “the act of spying … to acquire data on plans and exercises, particularly from an external government.” (Richa, (2015) Although there have been hypotheses as to whether the nations to which Snowden fled (Russia and China) have kept their records, there is still no evidence that he has continued to his advantage or helped them easily as would be the case. The situation with great recognition. (Richa, (2015)
Contrary to Snowden’s claim about wanting to stand up for his fellow Americans, the information he leaked actually created more harm than good. “The majority of the information that he shared is about the U.S. spying on foreign nations and not its domestic operations.” (Rachel Segal, 2019) As such, he risked damaging America’s relationship with foreign countries. By doing so, Snowden not only undermined U.S. alliances around the world but also U.S. efforts to undermine enemies that operate in countries where citizens have less ability to protect themselves from tyranny. (Rachel Segal, 2019)
Finally, Edward Joseph Snowden certainly has done a heroic act by exposing the global surveillance programmer of NSA. His act obviously fumes a global debate over surveillance techniques and protecting citizens’ privacy which was very much required in the age of present technological scenario. This also resulted in the US government passing the laws for the first time in decades restricting government surveillance. In his word: “He’s obviously violated the laws of America, for which he’s responsible, but I think the invasion of human rights and American privacy has gone too far and the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that the bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial” (Newton, 2013).
Edward Snowden, a former government employee and contractor, disclosed to newspaper reporters information about US intelligence activities that he obtained during the course of his work. Specifically, he revealed that the NSA engaged in widespread, warrantless surveillance of domestic and international telephone and Internet communications and also engaged in cyber spying on other governments, including allies. The revelations caused a public stir, especially given the questionable constitutionality of the NSA’s domestic surveillance.
But far more press, much of it hyperbolic, has focused on Snowden himself. Many officials and observers have called him a traitor while others labeled him a hero and a whistleblower who exposed massive government wrongdoing. Although officials have referred to Snowden as a traitor, he was not charged with treason. Nor should he be. The crime of treason requires that a person actually levy war against the US or act to aid enemies with whom the US is at war while showing allegiance to those enemies.
Snowden’s disclosure of confidential information does not rise to the level of treason, especially given that his apparent motive was to inform the general public about a surveillance scheme he viewed as “an existential threat to democracy.” In fact, the crime of treason is purposefully difficult to prove against defendants like Snowden precisely because it was historically abused, often used to punish those who did nothing more than criticize the government.
Snowden has also been charged with crimes under the Espionage Act for intentionally revealing secret national security information. Once these charges became public, newspapers immediately claimed that he was charged with espionage. Such claims are not quite accurate. Espionage is generally defined as “the practice of spying to obtain information about the plans and activities especially of a foreign government.” Although there has been speculation regarding whether the countries to which Snowden has fled have seized his files, there is not yet any evidence that he acted on their behalf or willingly cooperated with them as would be the case with classic espionage.
Which brings us back to the First Amendment. As with those early and often abused-treason prosecutions, the broad provisions of the Espionage Act raise significant First Amendment concerns. The laws give officials nearly unfettered discretion to determine when a release of confidential information may cause damage to US interests. Thus, officials can retaliate against certain leakers by charging them with crimes while ignoring other leaks. And leaks occur, often purposefully and at the behestand likely always will. Prior to the last decade, the federal government did not aggressively pursue criminal charges against government employees who leaked information to the press; rather, it punished such leaks if at all, via internal disciplinary actions.
Edward Snowden is a Hero or A Criminal Essay
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