If I were Edward Snowden, forced to live in an airport terminal for an unclear period of time, wondering whether a plane I might have boarded would even be allowed passage to asylum, unable to contact family or friends in any direct manner, I would be very happy as long as I maintained an internet connection. If his motivation was as he described it, to start a conversation about the universal intrusions of modern intelligence operations, he should be overjoyed.
When The Guardian published the NSA documents showing that the FISA court, purportedly the close overseer of NSA targeting and collection, agreed to rules that prohibited almost nothing with respect to non-citizens, many Europeans were outraged.
But not all. Some knew that their own governments were doing as much of the same thing as they could manage.
Referring to the system as a “French Big Brother”, Le Monde said the French state was able to use the surveillance “to spy on anybody at any time”. The paper wrote: “All of our communications are spied on.”
Le Monde said that after Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s Prism surveillance programme prompted indignation in Europe, France “only weakly protested, for two excellent reasons: Paris already knew about it, and it was doing the same thing”.
The difference between American spying and that of other government/corporate partnerships is purely our access to the data flowing through the biggest sites on the web: Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo, AOL, and Microsoft reside here, and the traffic passing through their servers is uniquely available to us. Every other government would be doing the same thing if it were possible. And by the same token our government is no better than any other, whatever myths we may cherish about our exceptionalism.
It is getting harder to find someone who doesn’t realize that their emails and conversations are intercepted and recorded, presumably presumably just what Snowden wanted.