(LibertySociety.com) – In 2013, CIA contractor Edward Snowden traveled to Hong Kong, where he provided journalists with thousands of classified documents he obtained while working for the US government. The documents were related to America’s mass surveillance program.
Snowden, who many consider a whistleblower, revealed that the US was working with European governments and telecom companies to spy on people both in America and abroad. He alleged that the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) was using a secret computer system allegedly known by the codeword “Tempora” to gain access to people’s internet data without their knowledge. The US National Security Agency (NSA) also allegedly used the program.
Recently, a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights against the British government has renewed discussions about both Snowden and the surveillance of Americans by their government.
On Tuesday, May 25, the European Court of Human Rights upheld a 2018 ruling from a lower court that found GCHQ’s Tempora program was illegal. The court agreed with the ruling that the mass surveillance by the British Government violated the human rights of people under the European Convention. All 17 justices of the court agreed with the ruling.
Judge Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque said the mass surveillance program has “proven to be ineffective” at preventing terrorism, making it a waste of resources and “dangerous for the protection of human rights.” He went on to say that accessing the data of private citizens is “more akin to a police state than to a democratic society.”
America’s Surveillance of Citizens
Although the court ruling did not have anything to do with the US specifically, it’s notable because people on both sides of the aisle have objected to surveillance programs here, too. After September 11, 2001, Congress made it easier for the government to spy on its citizens by expanding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) program. The FBI can spy on Americans with a warrantless surveillance program.
During the 2016 election, former President Donald Trump alleged the FBI used that warrantless program to spy on his campaign. An inspector general report later found federal agents violated many of the FBI’s rules to get approval from a FISA court to spy on Trump advisor Carter Page.
In light of the ruling from the European Court, many people believe it is time to end the mass surveillance of Americans by the US government, and that Snowden should be treated like a whistleblower instead of a traitor. What do you think? Should Snowden get a pardon now?
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