Edward Snowden

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Person.png Edward Snowden   Twitter WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(spook, computer expert)
Edward Snowden.jpg
BornEdward Joseph Snowden
Elizabeth City, North Carolina, United States
Criminal charge
Theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, willful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorized person (June 2013).
Exposed • NSA/PRISM
• NSA/Bullrun
• NSA/Boundless Informant
• NSA/Tempora
IT specialist and former contractor for the NSA, Edward Snowden's 2013 leaks about their mass surveillance programs were widely reported by the corporate media, an interesting contrast to the leaks of earlier whistleblowers that were roundly ignored.

Edward Snowden is an American computer specialist, former CIA employee and NSA contractor who in 2013 disclosed classified details of top-secret US mass surveillance programmes to the press.

Snowden's identity was made public by The Guardian at his request on June 9, 2013. He explained:

"I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong."


Snowden lived for some time in Switzerland. Ars Technica report that Snowden used the handle "TheTrueHOOHA" for some years there, noting that he opined that people who leak information should "be shot in the balls".[1]

The Breaking Point

In a 2014 interview, Snowden was asked "What was the decisive moment or was there a long period of time or something happening, why did you do this?"

I would say sort of the breaking point is seeing the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress. There’s no saving an intelligence community that believes it can lie to the public and the legislators who need to be able to trust it and regulate its actions. Seeing that really meant for me there was no going back.


A key developer of the anonymous surfing tool, Tor, whom Snowden had invited to a crypto-party in Hawaii stated in 2014 "There was nothing about Tor that he didn’t already know." Snowden ran more than one Tor exit nodes. While at the NSA in Hawaii, Snowden organised a crypto-party on December 11, 2012.[2]

The Leak

Full article: Edward Snowden Affair


Snowden has revealed a lots of names of information gathering programs and technologies, including PRISM, NSA call database, and Boundless Informant. He also revealed details of Tempora, a British black-ops surveillance program run by the NSA's British partner, GCHQ.

Undermining of Cryptography

Snowden revealed a classified decryption program code named Bullrun, which according to a New York Times story, costs the NSA around $250 million per year to insert backdoors in cryptographic software and hardware.[3] A Presidential advisory committee subsequently set up to examine NSA's conduct recommended among other things that the US government "fully support and not undermine efforts to create encryption standards".[4] In April 21, 2014, NIST withdrew Dual_EC_DRBG from its draft guidance on random number generators recommending "current users of Dual_EC_DRBG transition to one of the three remaining approved algorithms as quickly as possible."[5] Weaknesses in the cryptographic security of the algorithm were known and publicly criticised well before the algorithm became part of a formal standard endorsed by the ANSI, ISO, and formerly by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). One of the weaknesses publicly identified was the potential of the algorithm to harbour a kleptographic backdoor advantageous to the algorithm's designers—the United States government's National Security Agency (NSA)—and no-one else. In 2013, The New York Times reported that documents in their possession but never released to the public "appear to confirm" that the backdoor was real, and had been deliberately inserted by the NSA as part of the NSA's Bullrun decryption program. In December 2013, a Reuters news article alleged that in 2004, before NIST standardized Dual_EC_DRBG, NSA paid RSA Security $10 million in a secret deal to use Dual_EC_DRBG as the default in the RSA BSAFE cryptography library, which resulted in RSA Security becoming the most important distributor of the insecure algorithm.[6] RSA responded that they "categorically deny" that they had ever knowingly colluded with the NSA to adopt an algorithm that was known to be flawed, saying "we have never kept [our] relationship [with the NSA] a secret".[7]

Sometime before its first known publication in 2004, a possible kleptographic backdoor was discovered with the Dual_EC_DRBG's design, with the design of Dual_EC_DRBG having the unusual property that it was theoretically impossible for anyone but Dual_EC_DRBG's designers (NSA) to confirm the backdoor's existence. Bruce Schneier concluded shortly after standardization that the "rather obvious" backdoor (along with other deficiencies) would mean that nobody would use Dual_EC_DRBG.[8] The backdoor would allow NSA to decrypt for example SSL/TLS encryption which used Dual_EC_DRBG as a CSPRNG.[9]


A Quote by Edward Snowden

Privacy“Privacy is the right from which all others are derived. Without privacy there is only society, only the collective, which makes them all be and think alike. You can’t have anything yourself, you can’t have your own opinions, unless you have a space that belongs only to you. Arguing that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say...”Medium


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Checkbook Journalism & Leaking to the Highest Biddersarticle8 December 2013Sibel EdmondsA hard-hitting article on the Edward Snowden affair. Its author speaks with considerable authority on matters concerning intel/security whistle-blowing matters in the USA
Document:Cryptome’s searing critique of Snowden Incarticle13 February 2016Tim ShorrockCommentary on an interview with John Young and his wife Deborah Natsios by Pit Schultz of reboot.fm at the 'Transmedia 2016' event in Berlin on 6 February 2016
Document:GCHQ and Me: My Life Unmasking British EavesdroppersArticle3 August 2015Duncan CampbellNo one at the May 2015 conference on intelligence, security and privacy argued against greater openness. Thanks to Edward Snowden and those who courageously came before, the need for public accountability and review has become unassailable.
Document:Greenwald-Omidyar Joint Venture: The Blurring Lines Between Being A Source & Being A Journalistarticle13 December 2013Sibel Edmonds
Document:Mr Snowden, It’s Time to Come Out and Take a Stand Publicly as to Your Intentionsarticle15 December 2013Sibel Edmonds
Document:Omidyar’s PayPal Corporation Said To Be Implicated in Withheld NSA Documentsarticle11 December 2013Sibel Edmonds
Document:Saving Agent Snowden From His Handlers Greenwald & Omidyararticle24 October 2013Yoichi ShimatsuA long article on the Edward Sowden affair and the proposed 'alternative news' and whistleblowing-transparency initiative recently announced by Glenn Greenwald of Edward Snowden and Wikileaks revelations fame. It also contains plausible information about SIS involvement during the flight of Edward Snowden to Moscow via Hong Kong.
Document:Selling Secrets?article1 December 2013Glenn GreenwaldGlenn Greenwald's personal apologia - cum - mia-culpa. Written in response to devastating criticism of his motives and actions in the Edward Snowden affair to date.
Document:The Doomsday Insurance Cache That Was, and Then Never Wasarticle3 January 2014Sibel EdmondsPart 1 of a promised series of articles dissecting the published statements of the principal characters in what has become known as the Edward Snowden Affair. It highlights some glaring inconsistencies between those of Greenwald and Snowden and puts a shrewd question-mark over corporate media coverage of them.
Document:Vladimir Putin Interviewinterview5 September 2013Vladimir PutinPress interview with Vladimir Putin ahead of the September 2013 G20 meeting in St Petersburg


  1. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/06/exclusive-in-2009-ed-snowden-said-leakers-should-be-shot-then-he-became-one/
  2. http://www.wired.com/2014/05/snowden-cryptoparty/
  3. "Secret Documents Reveal N.S.A. Campaign Against Encryption". The New York Times. 5 September 2013.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  4. "NSA should stop undermining encryption standards, Obama panel says". Ars Technica.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  5. "NIST Removes Cryptography Algorithm from Random Number Generator Recommendations". National Institute of Standards and Technology. 21 April 2014.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  6. Menn, Joseph (December 20, 2013). "Exclusive: Secret contract tied NSA and security industry pioneer". San Francisco. Reuters. Retrieved December 20, 2013.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  7. The Security Division of EMC, RSA,. "RSA Response to Media Claims Regarding NSA Relationship". RSA. Retrieved 22 December 2013.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  8. Bruce Schneier (2007-11-15). "Did NSA Put a Secret Backdoor in New Encryption Standard?". Wired News. Archived from the original on 2014-06-21. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  9. Matthew Green. "The Many Flaws of Dual_EC_DRBG".Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").

External links