Edward Snowden is an ex NSA & CIA systems administrator who "used to work for the government, but now works for the public". The book starts with him talking about his childhood and how his first contact with computers was and then continues to cover his adolescence through high-school up to 9/11, after which he decides to join the army.
He then sheds light into his early years in the United States Intelligence Community and talks about the inner workings of the various places he worked at, from Fort Meade to Geneva to Tokyo to Hawaii. Spoiler alert: it's mind-boggling.
The last part of the book explains why he decided to blow the whistle and goes into detail about how he went to Hong Kong to share the documents he had stolen with journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald only then to flee into exile.
Ultimately, saying that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different from saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say. Or that you don’t care about freedom of the press because you don’t like to read. Or that you don’t care about freedom of religion because you don’t believe in God.
And let's be honest, we all have something to hide.
It doesn't have to be something illegal or something inherently wrong but you've most likely watched porn online, googled some famous actor or actresses nude pictures or even just received something you'd rather not be tied to.
It's not like you're constantly trying to hide these things but you'd rather have them remain private.
Some might even argue that they don't care if this kind of things end up being seen by their boss or their partner. Or that they are no-ones, so they don't really care. That might be true today, but what if tomorrow you want to apply for a VISA, or maybe be a candidate for some political party, would you run the risk of being personally exposed and tied to all of your online activity, even the one from your adolescence?
Fun fact: when you 'delete' a file from your computer or even your Google Drive the file dissapears from your view, and you might think it's been wiped from the disk, but guess what, it's not. Deleting in computing doesn't really exist. When you delete a file what you're actually removing is the path to it, the link, the direct access, and you're letting the computer know that that space can now be overwritten. But the file remains there, accessible by other means. Even if your format the hard drive.
It might be a bit troubling to realize that all of your online activity, everything you've ever done online, even what you typed into the search box but then deleted before hitting enter, is being stored somewhere, potentially available for someone to use against you. Don't worry, there's a bunch of tools that might come in handy.
There is, simply, no way to ignore privacy. Because a citizenry’s freedoms are interdependent, to surrender your own privacy is really to surrender everyone’s.
The book is a must read in the age of digitalization and worldwide connectivity. It's an eye opener regarding privacy and the long reach capabilities of not only the US but most probably all other intelligence services across the globe. Furthermore, it's a really pleasant read that gets you hooked from page one.
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