Edward Snowden has become a cult icon for people who “work” in their grandparents’ basements, pining away on Alienware while talking to Star Wars figures still ensconced in their original packaging.
The NSA and American consultant-turned rogue whistleblower was a guest at H.O.P.E. 2014 (that’s Hackers On Planet Earth) last weekend, and he asked the world to do something via secluded Google Hangout:
“Spill more government secrets.”
He made this questionable edict to all hackers, coders, and developers who were gathered at the New York City conference, as well as the ones watching via live stream online. While Snowden was applauded, he wasn’t the only famous whistleblower at the event.
That guy is after the jump.
According to this post from Mashable, Snowden’s message held that “technology empowers dissent.”
Snowden said that the only way to enable whistleblowers is to give them better tools to pass secrets to journalists, protecting their communications, their identities and preventing them from going to jail for it.
For those not in the know, Snowden may be the most notorious whistleblower at the moment, but he wasn’t the first. Also on the dais with him was Daniel Ellsberg, who famously released the Pentagon Papers, a secret government study on the effects and reasons behind America’s involvement in the Vietnam “conflict.”
Ellsberg faced 12 felony counts, which were later dismissed in 1973.
— Zen Albatross (@zenalbatross) July 19, 2014
Many technology experts are calling it a call to digital arms. The thought behind this clarion call is that software should be more user-friendly in allowing brave Americans leak government secrets and details about corporate greed.
“A lot of blood has flowed because people bit their tongues, swallowed their whistles and didn’t speak out,” Ellsberg said. “You people need to do what you can … to make it possible for people to do this without spending their life in prison.”
“You are the people who can make it possible for democracy to survive that attack on whistleblowers,” Ellsberg told the crowd of hackers.
While this announcement might inspire some to review their security practices, the hacker group Anonymous, which lionizes Snowden and Ellsberg, has just launched #OpSaveGaza, or “an intense online offensive against Israel.”
In short, ethics are not universal.