Edward Snowden (#1536) on Joe Rogan Experience

Key Takeaways

  • The National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance program has been ruled unlawful, seven years after it was exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden
    • “What they had ruled was that the NSA’s bulk collection of American’s phone records was illegal” – Edward Snowden
  • “This is a huge victory for privacy rights” 
  • Seven years after Snowden released that information, there have been no cases showing Snowden harmed or put national security at risk:
    • “The government has never shown a single example of any harm that has come as a result of the publication of these documents back in 2013”Edward Snowden
  • It’s relatively easy to install spyware, such as Pegasus, into someone’s phone and get access to their text messages, calls, passwords, camera, and microphone
    • “The number one target is the iPhone” – Edward Snowden
      • Why? The rich, political leaders, business CEOs, and other important figures typically have an iPhone
  • Unfortunately, there’s no real punishment if the government breaks a law:
    • “There is no punishment…There is no criminal liability for all the bastards at the head of the FBI, the head of the NSA, who were violating American’s rights for decades.”Edward Snowden
      • The heads of those organizations don’t go to prison or even lose their jobs. Some government officials even lied under oath and still weren’t held responsible for their actions.
        • “Because of that, it creates a culture of unaccountability”
  • “I think you’re a hero and I think that what you’ve done, history will be kind to you…I think our government is on the wrong side of history”Joe Rogan
  • The US needs to end the war against whistleblowers that don’t actually reveal any government secrets, but rather simply share the faults of the government to the American people who they serve:
    • “There are times when the only thing you can do is tell the truth and that should not be a crime”Edward Snowden

Intro

  • Edward Snowden (@Snowden)  is an American whistleblower who copied and leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013 when he was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee and subcontractor.
  • Host: Joe Rogan (@joerogan)

Books Mentioned

Privacy Rulings & Violations

  • The National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance program has been ruled unlawful, seven years after it was exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden
    • “What they had ruled was that the NSA’s bulk collection of American’s phone records was illegal” – Edward Snowden
      • “This is a huge victory for privacy rights”
  • Congress is currently trying to stop the proliferation of basic end-to-end encryption technology
  • Laws are often labeled with names that have little to do with their actions
    • For instance, the PATRIOT Act had little to do with patriotism but a lot to do with spying on Americans

The Business of Hacking

  • It’s relatively easy to install spyware, such as Pegasus, into someone’s phone and get access to their text messages, calls, passwords, camera, and microphone
    • “The number one target is the iPhone” – Edward Snowden
      • Why? The rich, political leaders, business CEOs, and other important figures typically have an iPhone
  • Bad actors like the Saudi or Mexican government, pay companies like Pegasus millions of dollars each year just to be able to spy on dissidents or people who oppose them 
  • Researchers are constantly looking for holes in their security and send a software update after they patch up the holes. For this reason, make sure your phone’s software has had the most recent update.
  • Whenever you get a text or email from an unknown person with a link, avoid clicking the link (it may install spyware on your device)
    • Once the spyware is on your device, the malicious actor may be able to get access to your passwords and access your accounts even if you get a new phone or laptop
  • The Citizen Lab is a lab at the University of Toronto that studies state-sponsored and corporate malware attacks
    • “They are the world leader, in my opinion, in basically investigating these kinds of attacks and exposing them” Edward Snowden
      • If you get a mysterious link that you think could be spyware, save it and send it to them and they can try to analyze where and who it came from

The Abuse of Warrants

  • Warrants didn’t always give the government access to all of a person’s physical and digital belongings
    • Originally, warrants only gave the authorities access to the instrumentalities (tools used to commit the crime) and the fruits of the crime (things gained from the criminal act)
      • Example: If you robbed a bank, a warrant would allow the cops to take any bags of money they found along with a crowbar, but not your personal letters to friends
        • “The idea that the FBI can get all these records…your whole history, is very much a new thing.” Edward Snowden
  • “We really need to ask ourselves, how much information do the authorities of today need to do their job? How much do we want them to have?” Edward Snowden

The Government Needs To Be Held Accountable

  • The US government used 9/11 to increase its surveillance abilities and spy on millions of citizens without their consent
    • “Personally I think 9/11 was where we made a fundamental mistake”Edward Snowden
      • The FBI was getting the telecommunication records of every US citizen who made a call on US soil every day
        • Fortunately, courts are finally putting limits on what information the US government can access for its citizens
          • “It will be the first meaningful guarantee of privacy rights in the digital age”
  • Unfortunately, there’s no real punishment if the government breaks a law:
    • “There is no punishment…There is no criminal liability for all the bastards at the head of the FBI, the head of the NSA, who were violating American’s rights for decades.”Edward Snowden
      • The heads of those organizations don’t go to prison or even lose their jobs. Some government officials even lied under oath and still weren’t held responsible for their actions.
        • “Because of that, it creates a culture of unaccountability”
  • Even if the government does something wrong, it takes 5-10 years to get a verdict in a courtroom

Did Snowden Put National Security At Risk?

  • Short answer: No
  • When Snowden exposed the documents showing the US government was spying on its citizens, he didn’t just release that information to everyone. Instead, he gave it to several trusted news organizations and told the journalists to give the US government a chance to refute or fact-check any of the articles they were going to publish.
  • Seven years after Snowden released that information, there have been 0 cases showing Snowden harmed or put national security at risk:
    • “The government has never shown a single example of any harm that has come as a result of the publication of these documents back in 2013”Edward Snowden
      • Additionally, courts have ruled that 0 US terrorist attacks were stopped from the government’s surveillance program 
        • However, the US is still charging Snowden under the Espionage Act even though he didn’t sell any secrets to other governments, he simply gave them to journalists to inform the US people about what was happening
  • The Espionage Act charges the source (persons providing the information), not the publication for the crime. Meaning publications such as the New York Times can print articles about the information without getting in trouble.
    • However, now the US government is going after publications such as WikiLeaks’s founder Julian Assange
    • Another whistleblower that the US government is going after is Daniel Hale who shared documents about the ineffectiveness and high collateral damage of drone strikes

Thoughts on Social Media

  • Because people prefer to see content that confirms their view on the world, social media platforms tend to recommend (like YouTube’s Up Next feature) people similar content to what they’ve seen which keeps them trapped in their bubble and prevents them from being exposed to different views
  • Censorship on social media is a slippery slope. It started with banning terrorist groups like ISIS members, but now you can get banned for life on Twitter if you dead name someone 
    • “Deplatforming is a huge issue” – Edward Snowden
      • Calling someone by the wrong name shouldn’t have the same repercussion as posting threats of terrorism
        • “We do need people to have some responsibility for having a thicker skin” 
  • Even the best of people have bad days and say things they regret online
  • “What we need to realize is that the internet is a utility. And people, individuals, and corporate entities should be criminally liable for the things they do online.”Edward Snowden
    • Meaning if people and companies should be held responsible for their actions online and be judged in a court by a jury for their crimes

Forgiveness & Cancel Culture 

  • “What is right and wrong is changing constantly when you’re talking about public opinion because public opinion is changing constantly” Edward Snowden
    • Not only does the public’s opinion change over time, but so do our individual opinions. However, some people try to condemn people for their past opinions even if they changed their views on them.
      • “We are no longer allowed to forget our worst mistakes…They haunt us, they’re used against us, they’re weaponized.”Edward Snowden
        • Activists search for these old opinions and try to attack people on the other side to discredit them
  • “We’re all in a constant state of growth” – Joe Rogan
    • We’re all humans and none of us are perfect. We should encourage people to see things from a new perspective and accept people who have changed their views for the better. 

Police Unions & Accountability

  • “The reality is we are all inherently flawed” – Edward Snowden
    • Cops are people which means they also aren’t perfect
      • However, all of us, including cops, have the potential to improve and get better
  • Edward believes there shouldn’t be any police unions
    • “We don’t want to have a gun-toting immunized class walking among us” – Edward Snowden
  • “The reason a lot of police violence occurs even if it’s not all…is the lack of accountability” – Edward Snowden
    • Since police have a higher power in society, such as the power to take a life, they must be held to a higher standard of accountability
  • “I think even honest cops recognize that the system is fundamentally broken” – Edward Snowden

Additional Notes

  • An unfortunate truth: the fewer resources you have (like wealth) the less influence you have
    • “Your vote means less, your ability to change the law means less, your access to the courts means less” – Edward Snowden
  • The government has built a panopticon ruled by a computer 
    • The government has access to everyone’s smartphone and can learn almost everything about a person’s life without the individual realizing
  • We cannot have a society where the US government or government officials don’t have to abide by the same laws as regular American citizens
  • Joe would like to see Edward pardoned 
  • “I think you’re a hero and I think that what you’ve done, history will be kind to you…I think our government is on the wrong side of history”Joe Rogan

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Notes By Alex Wiec

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