Edward Snowden continues to change the world
Last week, California passed a digital privacy law that prevents the government from accessing the digital records of citizens without a warrant.
California is the fourth state to pass this type of law since Edward Snowden blew the whistle of the government's domestic spying.
Just a few days earlier the European Court of Justice invalidated the “safe harbor” provision between the United States and Europe. It basically made it illegal for large tech companies to move people's private data from Europe to the United States. The court “made it clear that American intelligence agencies had almost unfettered access to the data, infringing on Europeans’ rights to privacy.”
This is the result of just one of a host of lawsuits currently making their way through the courts.
Wikipedia was just in court, represented by the ACLU, arguing that the NSA’s “upstream” surveillance program - where the spy agency has access to entire Internet streams coming into and out of the country - is illegal and unconstitutional. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (my former employer) has a case in the 9th Circuit challenging the constitutionality of the same program, focused on the expansive and secret partnership between AT&T and the NSA that has allowed the spy agency to siphon off huge amounts of data right off AT&T’s fiber optic cables all over the country....
All over the country, civil liberties organizations like the ACLU and EFF have challenged the government over getting cell phone location data without a warrant. If and when one of those cases reaches the Supreme Court, it will have an even more direct impact on millions of people’s privacy.
Congress did pass the USA Freedom Act, an event which Congressman Thomas Massie said "exonerated" Snowden, enabling some very modest reforms to NSA spying, but Congress is still considering more reforms.
The UN General Assembly passed the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age resolution.
Responding to whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations about US government surveillance programs, the UN General Assembly adopted an internet privacy resolution Tuesday.
"…without the necessary checks, we risk turning into Orwellian states, where every step of every citizen is being monitored and recorded in order to prevent any conceivable crime," Germany's Ambassador to the UN, Harald Braun, told the UN General Assembly's Third Committee, commenting on the adoption of the "Right to Privacy in the Digital Age" resolution.
All these development above represent the second wave of The Snowden Effect, the legal ramifications.
The first wave of The Snowden Effect, representing consumer and corporate policies and habits, is not over, and probably hasn't even crested yet.
Remember when some people tried to drown out Snowden's whistleblowing with loud yawns? It didn't work.
The effect Snowden has had on the world shows up in this survey.
An international survey of Internet users has found that more than 39% have taken steps to protect their online privacy and security as a result of spying revelations by one-time NSA employee Edward Snowden.
According to this survey 706 million people have changed their behavior in response to NSA GCHQ spying. When have you ever heard of 3/4 of a Billion people changing their habits on anything short of an ebola pandemic?
The big IT companies are more than willing to ignore the concerns of their customers, until it starts affected profits. Their overseas profits were badly hurt by revelations of NSA spying,
U.S. technology companies are in danger of losing more business to foreign competitors if the National Security Agency’s power to spy on customers isn’t curbed, researchers with the New America Foundation said in a report today.
With profit margins falling, Big IT suddenly "found Jesus" in regards to customer concerns for privacy and have gotten downright hostile to government requests for your personal information.
Apple pointed to its encryption policies, stating that the company could not possibly honor the Justice Department’s request. Tech giants such as Apple, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and now Microsoft have taken up this stance to show that they can protect customers' privacy in the wake of the revelations following whistleblower Edward Snowden’s public release of the documents. Mr. Snowden had even advised users to shun popular services, including Google. The move means that tech companies have something to prove to customers again.
The NY Times reports that Apple’s refusal made FBI and Justice Department officials consider taking Apple to court. While they will not do that for now, the Justice Department is now at loggerheads with Microsoft Corporation.
That isn't the only change in general attitude toward domestic spying by the government.
Two years ago, the cops could look at the contents of your cell phone without a warrant if they arrested you, the NSA could track your calls and map all our contacts without an individual court order, and the FBI could use stingrays to suck up the cell phone data of hundreds of innocent people at the same time.
Now all of those activities are forbidden.
The Supreme Court ruled police need a warrant to get into the cell phone of the approximately 12 million people that are arrested each year. Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, which will force the NSA to go to the Fisa court each time it wants to data mine an American’s cell phone records. And now, stingrays require a warrant.
That’s not all: Since the Snowden revelations, judges have gotten more discerning of law enforcement surveillance requests (the Washington Post called it “the magistrate’s revolt”)
All those "yawners" from two years ago probably thought that Snowden would have been long forgotten by now. Instead the world is slowly changing for the better, in this one aspect, and the changes are far from over.
What's more, the changes extend beyond our borders.
MI5, MI6 and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters publicly testified in front of Parliament for the first time ever.
There was a rise in encryption and user privacy startup companies who have developed apps and hardware with higher security — from Wickr messaging, Silent Circle's Blackphone and more.
As the world slowly changes for the better because of Snowden's whistleblowing, it's going to be harder and harder for the yawners to rationalize their hate.