“Sweden has a new government, so maybe I can come there now.”
Edward Snowden, the man who disclosed the US monitoring of electronic communication and secret intelligence organisation NSA, today recieved Ordfront’s democracy price. The event took place at the Human Rights Days in Umeå – this year’s European Capital of culture.
During the ceremony Snowden was twice honored with standing ovations from a big audience. Snowden, stuck in Russia, participated via a video link. So did Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who first published Snowdens far-reaching leak.
Snowden said that the surveillance program from the start had good intentions, but later degenerated. There is now no legal control over what happens. The United States government has neither confirmed nor disconfirmed the existence of monitoring of all data communication and phone calls. A satisfactory legal control is therefore not possible. Surveillance takes place for great amounts of data, but it is also fully possible to follow individuals. For that to happen, a warrant is needed, however only for US citizens. For the rest of the world no permission is required in order to follow in detail all phone conversation, text messaging, email, Skyping, etc.
Edward Snowden also meant that it is very difficult, not to say impossible, to keep protected from the type of transparency he has uncovered. Information may be encrypted, which complicates the task and delays unauthorized agencies – but there is no guarantee.
Glenn Greenwald voiced his admiration for Edward Snowden and for what he has achieved under big sacrifice. Just by following his inner voice of conscience he has done a great favor to mankind.
Greenwald has a hope that internet providers realize that they risk losing customers as these understand that there are leaks. In case the public would rather turn to, say, Germany or Brazil for services, it is troublesome for an organization dependent of its customers.
Snowden also mentioned as a bright aspect the recent European court invalidation of the Data Retention Directive, which is an attempt of copying the US surveillance model.
Ordfronts chairwoman Anna Wigenmark gave the price to Edward Snowden. Anthropologist Brian Palmer from Uppsala interviewed skillfully and with great enthusiasm.
Ordfront was founded in 1969 and has since given a large contribution to culture in Sweden.