Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Edward Snowden makes surprise appearance at TED2014

Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden came out of exile in Russia yesterday, in the form of a remotely-controlled robot to make a surprise appearance at the TED2014, which is being held in Vancouver British Columbia, March 17–21.

You can read an edited transcript of Snowden's talk here, or view his TED Talk here.

In answer to the question, "You might think if you haven’t done anything wrong then it doesn’t really matter. Why should we care about all this surveillance?" Snowden answered:

The first thing is you’re giving up your rights. "I don’t think I’m going to need them so I’ll get rid of them, it doesn’t really matter, these guys will do the right thing."  But your rights matter because you never know when you’ll need them. In democratic societies around the world, people should be able to pick up the phone, call family, send text messages to loved one, travel by train, buy an airline ticket – without wondering how those events will look to an agent of government, possibly not even your government but one years in the future. How might this be misinterpreted? We have a right to privacy. We require warrants to be based on probable causes. Trusting any government authority with the entirety of human communications without any oversight is too great a temptation to be ignored.

In other words, it's not a matter of privacy ... it's one of freedom.  And ultimately, of democracy, open societies, in which free citizens are self-governing. 

Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin is an American computer scientist and Internet entrepreneur who, with Larry Page, co-founded Google.  Here's a photo of him taken with Edward Snowen at TED2014:

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