In 2013, Edward Snowden rocked the intelligence community when he leaked thousands of classified documents to the press. His bold action is the subject of a major motion picture and several documentaries. Many hail him as a hero and others a villain. Despite the furor around and individual opinions of his actions, many of the genuinely inappropriate and wrong behavior that he exposed are still transpiring— leaked nudes being a salient example.
Snowden’s actions exposed how fragile our freedom is. He revealed a massive amount of programs that were “incidentally” spying on Americans. Odds are, if you’ve ever sent a nude photograph through email, or another online service, the NSA has a copy. According to Snowden, NSA employees often share these photos with each other, a claim the NSA does not outright deny.
During an interview with HBO host John Oliver in 2015, Snowden discussed a series of programs that can collect nude photographs. There were six programs discussed by the two, including Executive Order 12333, and PRISM. Of these six programs, all are still running and remain lawful means by which the NSA collects American’s private information.
Even more programs have come to light. An operation code-named “FAIRVIEW” was recently revealed by The Intercept, a website founded to publish Snowden’s leaks. This operation is a partnership between the internet service provider AT&T and the NSA. The Intercept described FAIRVIEW as eight buildings in eight major cities where the telecom giant and the NSA coexist. A similar partnership, code-named “STORMBREW” exists with Verizon. These partnerships allow the NSA to tap into giant mines of data without a warrant.
The NSA continues to spy on Americans with full authority from the US Government. There has been little effort to reform the Patriot Act, or Executive Order 12333, the two legal documents that provide them with the means to do so. Even the USA Freedom Act signed into law in 2015 has done nothing to curb NSA spying, and even renewed many of their spying programs. However, the Freedom Act is up for renewal in 2019. Congress must use this opportunity to reign in the NSA if the public is to retain any measure of digital freedom, security, or privacy.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.