One of the stated key objectives of Edward Snowden was to see a public debate about the spying being undertaken by the NSA and other agencies in the United States on the American public. There has certainly been discussion in many circles, and clearly one perceived objective was to see more control exercised over the NSA’s activities. This interview with Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bills of Rights Defense Committee, suggests the behind closed doors horse-trading will likely see the colour of the drapes changed, but very little substantive reform, just as Steve Pieczenik predicted. As the interview says, there are still more steps in the process, but the reality of the American political process would lead us to expect no substantive progress, and perhaps even more freedom granted to the NSA and others through the back door.
What has changed is the understanding of how many complicit companies and other players there are, and the individual or business needs to be willing to take responsibility for encrypting their data and communications in a trusted manner. The degree to which this is being done, along with serious efforts to find and close the security backdoors in mainstream products, along with substantial new development efforts to produce highly secure, easy to use public tools is very encouraging. Decent encryption will make it much more difficult for these goons, even with their massive decrypting supercomputers.
Gone are the days of naivety when the public expected Western if not other governments to treat their citizens with any respect or privacy, or to act in their best interests. Not before time.