Moscow, Russia (TFC) – The spotlight on rampant, indiscriminate, ineffective & illegal mass surveillance has yet to dim. John Oliver pleasantly surprised us all on his recent episode of ‘Last Week Tonight’ in which he flies to Russia for a previously undisclosed interview with the ‘most famous hero and/or traitor in recent American History,’ Edward Snowden.
More surprising than Edward Snowden appearing on Last Week Tonight was the revelation that there is still a large swath of Americans that a) do not know who Edward Snowden is and b) still think their phone calls, texts, emails or any other communications are private.
Laughably some Americans think that ‘Edward Snowden runs Wikileaks.’ A somewhat more forgivable, but still wholly incorrect, belief is that Snowden gave documents to Wikileaks.
Granted the number of people trying to warn America and Canada (and the rest of the FVEY Five Eyes member countries for that matter) about what their Government is doing to its own citizens and the larger world as a whole is increasing. Some confusion isn’t entirely unexpected.
After some inconsequential banter the interview turns more serious. “Domestic Surveillance, Americans give some of a shit about. Foreign Surveillance, They don’t give any remote shit about” Oliver said of Americans’ current perceptions.
Snowden explains why you should give a comparable amount of shit about each later on in the interview. For those of you that neglect to watch the interview, I’ll paraphrase (and even expand on) what Snowden says. Even domestic communications can be swept up in ‘foreign surveillance’ because of the way the telecommunications infrastructure works. The fastest route for communications to travel on isn’t always the shortest and the shortest route isn’t always the cheapest. Because of a myriad of factors and relationships your communications could traverse many continents before your conversation is delivered to that person standing next to you, or down the hall, or across the street.
First the interview attempts to address how and why people still don’t get it. After 2 years of detailed disclosures on every facet of the Surveillance State. Oliver surmises that the attitude of the public must have been “Don’t teach me anything. I don’t want to learn.” – How else would what you witness from the streets of America even be possible, unless this were the case?
Snowden argues that the Internet, and telecommunications infrastructure in general, is a massively complex and invisible ‘thing’ to most people. That conceptualizing this massive cancerous surveillance growth is beyond them.
Snowden: “It’s a real challenge. How do we communicate things that sort of require years and years of technical understanding and compress that into seconds of speech.”
Oliver: “Let me help you out there, You mentioned in an interview that the NSA was passing around naked photos of innocent people.” (See 10 minute mark for those revelations of July 17th 2014)
Snowden: “Yeah. This is something where it is not actually seen as, really, much of a big deal in the culture of NSA, Because you see naked pictures *all the time*.”
Oliver: “That! Terrifies people. Because when you ask people about that. This is the response you get.”
Watch the full interview below to see the peoples response.
Nigel Todman is an Independent Journalist, Technical Consultant, Social Activist, Web Developer and Computer Programmer from Ontario, Canada. Add him to Facebook and/or Follow him on Twitter E-mail: nigel [at] naaij [dot] org [PGP]