Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

I already read his book No Place To Hide. That book is more about Snowden's life, escape and life after. If Snowden was a superhero (and he sort of is to me), this book details his origin story, in his own words. What caused Snowden to abandon his life to do what is 'right'? Who does that sort of thing? What are his views on freedom, and privacy?

Technology doesn't have a Hippocratic oath. So many decisions that have been made by technologies in academia, industry, the military, and government since at least the Industrial Revolution have been made on the basis of “can we,” not “should we.”

Snowden and I are born in the same year – 1983 represent! When he describes his childhood of being a high school nerd, who learns more from computers, than at school, I can relate. The internet changed my life and gave me such hope for the future.

As the millennium approached, the online world would become increasingly centralized and consolidated, with both governments and businesses accelerating their attempts to intervene in what had always been a fundamentally peer-to-peer relationship. But for one brief and beautiful stretch of time – the stretch that, fortunately for me, coincided almost exactly with my adolescence – the Internet was mostly made of, by, and for the people. Its purpose was to enlighten, not to monetize, and it was administered more by a provisional cluster of perpetually shifting collective norms than by exploitative, globally enforceable terms of service agreements. To this day, I consider the 1990s online to have been the most pleasant and successful anarchy I’ve ever experienced.”

I credit Snowden for sending me down the road to digital freedom and increasing my awareness of my online privacy and security. I feel he is the voice of my generation for technology. He has a vision of what the internet could be, and should be.

I'll leave you with some quotes from the book:

...the privacy of our data depends on the ownership of our data. There is no property less protected, and yet no property more private.

A world in which all people were totally surveilled would logically become a world in which all laws were totally enforced, automatically, by computers. After all, it's difficult to imagine an AI device that's capable of noticing a person breaking the law not holding that person accountable. No policing algorithm would ever be programmed, even if it could be, toward leniency or forgiveness.

Each of us has our own idea of what it is. “Privacy” means something to everyone. There is no one to whom it means nothing.

...saying that you don't care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say. Or that you don't care about freedom of the press because you don't like to read. Or that you don't care about freedom of religion because you don't believe in God. Or that you don't care about freedom to peaceable assemble because you're a lazy, antisocial agoraphobe. Just because this or that freedom might not have meaning to you today doesn't mean that it doesn't or won't have meaning tomorrow, to you.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #75 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge