There are two points that stand out for me from the amazing Edward Snowden interview this morning in the Guardian. By the way, I cannot recall another occasion where a “hunted” man (as someone put it on Twitter) was interviewed live–quite an awesome experience, and just a bit surreal to see it unfolding.
Anyway, here’s the first quote:
The consent of the governed is not consent if it is not informed.
Snowden refers here to the idea that we-the-people give our consent to be governed, which comes from the US Declaration of Independence. Snowden distinguishes between generic consent and a specific “informed consent.” This is the phrase that is used in scientific research when researching with human subjects. The consent must be informed, and furthermore, the consent can be withdrawn at any time.
The other quote that struck me:
The US Person / foreigner distinction is not a reasonable substitute for individualized suspicion…
What he’s saying here is that there is a huge difference between a specific, targeted and individualized suspicion that could give grounds for surveillance and a mass surveillance of people based on a “US person/not US person” division. Especially as the latter is easily shown to be nonsensical. You might think that Snowden is against all surveillance or for the abolition of the NSA, etc. but clearly he is not. Worth remembering.