Edward
Snowden was a former contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) based in
Hawaii who disclosed very confidential data pertaining to security. In June
2013, classified data began being released by the Guardian newspaper that had
Snowden as the source of their information. The newspaper firm revealed the
existence of various mass programs for surveillance that were operated by the
NSA in collaboration with countries located in Europe. The United States government
designed these programs to be able retaliate if any of their “allies” turned
their backs on them. The discoveries brought to light PRISM, which is an
immense secret electronic data program for scrutiny under the confines of NSA,
together with top-secret agreements made by countries that exchanged surveillance
information (Solms & Heerden, 2015). These discoveries have negatively
impacted the international relationship America had with other countries. As a
result, Brazil revoked a state visit that had been planned and Ecuador
relinquished their trade aids with the U.S. The disclosures also affected some
big IT firms based in the nation financially and particularly those that
focused on aspects of cloud computing. In general, all people, organizations, as
well as countries were affected by the coverages in one way or another. A
fraction of private email providers were compelled to shut down because of fear
for their secret information being publicized by the NSA and other pressures
emanating from the government. The faith that people had in security experts in
the country was likewise tainted. Snowden subsequently became a polarizing
figure with some professionals like those advocating for privacy regarded him
as a hero while officials from the government and politicians branded him as a
criminal. He was charged with three offenses and therefore flew to Hong Kong
and later to Russia as an asylum seeker. Despite the leakage of information
which was deemed confidential, the paper will argue that Snowden was a hero.

The
fact that Snowden came out and acknowledged that he was the person behind the
disclosure of the sensitive info serves as a proof that he is indeed a hero. He
was well aware of the repercussions that he would have to face if he disclosed
his identity publicly and still chose the option of not remaining anonymous. He
however chose to reveal himself since he had the interest of the public at
heart. According to Greenwald et al
(2013), Snowden stated that his exclusive reason for coming out openly was to
let the citizens know of the happenings within the NSA which were both done in
their account and against them. He went ahead to assert that he gave up his discretion,
safety and freedom as he was unable to permit the American government from jeopardizing
the privacy and the liberty to freely use the internet and other basic
privileges that are entitled to individuals throughout the globe. Snowden thought
that the spying on people through massive surveillance technologies that were
being built in secret as not correct ethically and therefore had to act. Cameras
being found in his own house was the breaking point leading him to sneaking a micro
card into the NSA to upload the data.

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Snowden
played a key role as a whistleblower in enlightening the public that their data
were always being monitored and as such had to be careful of the content they
posted online or on their telephone conversations. By doing so, his motive was
not to bring down NSA or CIA but to have them limit their roles and
responsibilities to dangers that were really important through the use of means
that were least invasive. The citizens being aware of the actions by NSA meant
that they had the choice to make decisions on the boundaries of intrusions
(Knobbe & Schindler, 2017). Snowden was able to get support from nations
that thought that what NSA did was not appropriate. When he departed from Hong
Kong and was on his way to Moscow, his passport was revoked by the US and was
left without travelling means. Russia granted him a temporary asylum for one
year after he had been stranded at the Moscow airport for thirty nine days
permitting him to stay and travel within the country. So far, Snowden has
received political asylum applications to twenty seven dissimilar nations that
were requested on his behalf. Among the countries that have volunteered to give
him a safe haven are Venezuela and Nicaragua with Bolivia willing to offer him
shelter should they be asked to do so. Those are just but a few examples that function
to show that Snowden is in fact a hero admired for the courage he demonstrated for
leaking classified data that countries are keen towards helping him (Solms
& Heerden, 2015).

A
number of reforms have been made aimed at reinforcing the privacy of Americans
as well as the capacity of NSA to gather intelligence following the leak. The
modifications would not have taken place without the revelations made by
Snowden. The aides under the rule of President Obama were reluctant to
restructure mass surveillance and only became keen in doing the same after the
leaks. Because of Snowden, the NSA had no choice but to be transparent,
answerable and safeguard the privacy rights of citizens. It took strides that
were excruciating for them to come clean to the public and issue clandestine
documents of many pages in an open move aimed at clarifying the disclosures by
Snowden. The Congress stopped amassing phone call records of US inhabitants
following an external assessment which established that it had minimal
significance. Worth mentioning is the fact that owing to the exposures, the
government of America increased its perceptions on privacy. The documents that
were leaked by Snowden annoyed allies of the US government and ashamed
technology firms in the worldwide market. The Obama administration in reaction
to the incident rolled out new guidelines necessitating NSA to contemplate on
the privacy of all people in the globe. President Obama in August 2013 declared
that the intelligence surveillance programs for the public were to be revised
so as to reach an agreement between the defense of the safety and privacy of
Americans. In the changes, the government was forbidden from storing call
records in the country due to the likelihood of misuse.  In addition, the NSA was barred from spying
on friends to heads of states and that extra security was to be awarded to
outsiders whose conversations were kept in the databases of NSA. As much as the
current regime of President Trump is a national rhetoric, it is adhering to the
rules (Edgar, 2017).

The
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) followed suit in making
modifications to their procedures. They made announcements on the 1st
of November, 2013 that an official appraisal on the development process of its
principles used in the endorsement systems that are encoded will be launched.
The evaluation likewise was thought to be a response that was attributed to a
New York Times article which highlighted that the security standards of NIST
cryptographic to be interfered with after the Snowden exposure. The revealed
information pointed out that processors were installed by the NSA in
partnership with specific technological organizations whose identities were not
disclosed.  The aim of the collaboration
was to get hold of encrypted information through cryptographic algorithms that
were permitted by NIST by back door (Solms & Heerden, 2015).

In
conclusion, a hero is someone who is valued for the bravery they showed and
their deeds, which reflects the greater good of the community. Snowden fits that
description based on the many sacrifices he made just to make sure that the
world was informed of what was going on in the NSA. By him deciding to be the
whistle blower, he was putting at risk his own job and life on the line. He
lost his job and had to live as a refugee on foreign lands. But still he had no
regrets for the decisions he made as he believed what the NSA was doing was not
ethically correct. Thanks to his disclosures, various bodies like the NSA and
NIST were prompted to review their policies and come up with new ones which
catered for the needs of all in society without infringing on their privacy
rights. They were to be held accountable to by the populace with regards to
data at their disposal. The steps taken by such agencies better qualify him as
a hero because without his insights on the breach of privacy that was being
undertaken by the NSA, none of the adjustments would have been effected. All
the changes made worked to benefit the common citizen whose confidentiality was
being violated.

 

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