Tech giants such as Google or Facebook store vast amounts of personal data for their own gain but they are also “happy to hand over” this data to governments, making people vulnerable to persecution, Edward Snowden warned.
Any person can pretty much be sure that “everything you’ve done, everything you’ve typed into their search box, everything you have clicked on, everything you’ve liked” is duly recorded and stored in the enormous databanks of the big tech corporations, the NSA whistleblower said addressing the UK Open Rights Group Conference (ORGCON19) in London via a video link from Moscow.
“Your communications, as they happen largely today, don’t actually take place between you and the person that you are talking to. They happen between you and Facebook, who then provides a copy of it to the person you are talking to, or you and Gmail, who then gives a copy of it to the person that you are talking to and every time these transactions occur through these service providers, they keep a record of it.”
The corporations do that primarily to advance their own financial and economic interests, yet they seek to not only “better their class” but also to “better their state” and are, thus, more than happy to share the data they obtained with governments, which, in turn, make a use of it in its mass surveillance programs, Snowden warned.
“We see that governments increasingly care less and less about compliance, and care more and more about power,” he said, adding that the governmental security structures, which were supposedly created to protect the people against the threat of terrorism, are in fact used against pretty much anyone from critically-minded journalists and dissidents to immigrants and minorities.
The corporations, which now virtually control the most part of internet communications, have been long abusing their position of power, forcing people into relations one would never “meaningfully consent to” while staying largely unaccountable.
The law simply has not caught up to the fact that a technological corporation now can indenture entire populations into servitude to the corporate good, rather than to individual or public good.
His warnings came soon after Facebook agreed to give French authorities data on hate speech suspects. Earlier, the tech giant’s lawyer openly stated that the social network’s users do not actually have any privacy at all when it comes to their personal data.
Yet, the whistleblower added a portion of optimism to his otherwise grim speech by saying that the people are waking up to this situation and “that things are going to get better” because of the efforts of people who are not indifferent to this issue.
Snowden has been living in a self-imposed exile in Russia ever since he exposed the NSA’s vast surveillance network back in 2013, bringing to light information about the US security agency’s mass surveillance activities targeting millions of Americans as well as foreign leaders. He has been charged with espionage by Washington and faces arrest if he were to return home.
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