The NSA whistleblower continues to inspire as he speaks out against American imperialism from Russia, where he’s been since June 23, 2013.
MINNEAPOLIS — It’s been two years since Edward Snowden fled the United States and began disclosing classified documents to the media, proving the existence of the NSA’s mass surveillance program which had only been the subject of rumor and speculation before.
In early June 2013, Snowden began sharing thousands of documents he took as a Booz Allen Hamilton analyst working on a National Security agency contract with journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald. He went public with his identity on June 9, and the U.S. government canceled his passport on June 22, leading Snowden to seek asylum in Russia, where he remains to this day.
Whether he’s speaking to the tech industry about the importance of encryption at SXSW, or remotely diagnosing a reporter with epilepsy during an interview, Snowden continues to inspire with his words despite his exile. Here are a few of his best quotations.
On NSA spying and whistleblowing:
- “These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.” — “An Open Letter to the People of Brazil,” December 2013
- “The NSA set fire to the Internet’s future. The people in this room are all the firefighters.” — “Edward Snowden speaks to SXSW,” March 2014
- “Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American.” — “Edward Snowden: NSA whistleblower answers reader questions,” Oct. 3, 2014
- “Privacy matters. Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.” — “Snowden Sends Christmas Message To USA,” Dec. 25, 2013
- “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” — Edward Snowden’s “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit, May 21, 2015
- “Bathtub falls and police officers kill more Americans than terrorism, yet we’ve been asked to sacrifice our most sacred rights for fear of falling victim to it.” — “Edward Snowden: NSA whistleblower answers reader questions,” Oct. 3, 2014
- “I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded.” — “Edward Snowden: ‘The US government will say I aided our enemies,’” July 8, 2013
On the future:
- “A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought. And that’s a problem because privacy matters; privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.” — “Snowden Sends Christmas Message To USA,” Dec. 25, 2013
- “The tide has turned, and we can finally see a future where we can enjoy security without sacrificing our privacy. Our rights cannot be limited by a secret organization … Even the defenders of mass surveillance, those who may not be persuaded that our surveillance technologies have dangerously outpaced democratic controls, now agree that in democracies, surveillance of the public must be debated by the public.” — “An Open Letter to the People of Brazil,” Dec. 17, 2013
- “The conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it. Together we can find a better balance, end mass surveillance, and remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.” — “Snowden Sends Christmas Message To USA,” Dec. 25, 2013