Information may not want to be free from a financial standpoint, but it does want to be unfettered, with centralized, controlled data no longer a possibility in this connected age. That’s the reality made clear by the Edward Snowden leaks, even if his NSA revelations weren’t exactly a shocker to anyone with open eyes. In many cases this new normal will be a good thing and in some a bad one. But no legislation will really stop it.
Further complicating matters is that most Americans don’t seem to mind if their government snoops on them in the (supposed) name of protecting them. In these scary times, they want a big brother, even if it’s Big Brother.
From “The Most Wanted Man in the World,” James Bamford’s Wired cover article, a passage about a possible second leaker, which is likely though Snowden neither confirms nor denies:
“And there’s another prospect that further complicates matters: Some of the revelations attributed to Snowden may not in fact have come from him but from another leaker spilling secrets under Snowden’s name. Snowden himself adamantly refuses to address this possibility on the record. But independent of my visit to Snowden, I was given unrestricted access to his cache of documents in various locations. And going through this archive using a sophisticated digital search tool, I could not find some of the documents that have made their way into public view, leading me to conclude that there must be a second leaker somewhere. I’m not alone in reaching that conclusion. Both Greenwald and security expert Bruce Schneier—who have had extensive access to the cache—have publicly stated that they believe another whistle-blower is releasing secret documents to the media.
In fact, on the first day of my Moscow interview with Snowden, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel comes out with a long story about the NSA’s operations in Germany and its cooperation with the German intelligence agency, BND. Among the documents the magazine releases is a top-secret ‘Memorandum of Agreement’ between the NSA and the BND from 2002. ‘It is not from Snowden’s material,’ the magazine notes.
Some have even raised doubts about whether the infamous revelation that the NSA was tapping German chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone, long attributed to Snowden, came from his trough. At the time of that revelation, Der Spiegel simply attributed the information to Snowden and other unnamed sources. If other leakers exist within the NSA, it would be more than another nightmare for the agency—it would underscore its inability to control its own information and might indicate that Snowden’s rogue protest of government overreach has inspired others within the intelligence community. ‘They still haven’t fixed their problems,’ Snowden says. ‘They still have negligent auditing, they still have things going for a walk, and they have no idea where they’re coming from and they have no idea where they’re going. And if that’s the case, how can we as the public trust the NSA with all of our information, with all of our private records, the permanent record of our lives?'”