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USA Today Names Edward Snowden Tech Person of the Year 228

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the things-to-do-before-you're-thirty dept.
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from the USA Today tech column: "...But until a lone information-technology contractor named Edward Snowden leaked a trove of National Security Agency documents to the media this summer, we didn't know just how much we'd surrendered. Now that we do, our nation can have a healthy debate — out in the open, as a democracy should debate — about how good a bargain we got in that exchange. For facilitating that debate, at great risk to his own personal liberty, Snowden is this column's technology person of the year for 2013."
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USA Today Names Edward Snowden Tech Person of the Year

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  • USA Today (Score:5, Informative)

    by egr (932620) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:12PM (#45824349) Journal
    And yet by the government he is named as traitor and fugitive.
    • Re:USA Today (Score:5, Insightful)

      by easyTree (1042254) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:16PM (#45824387)

      What are the corrupt power-mongering double-talking ghouls gonna do? "Oh yeah, we're the bad guy. Sue us" ?

      • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:36PM (#45824621) Journal

        What are the corrupt power-mongering double-talking ghouls gonna do? "Oh yeah, we're the bad guy. Sue us" ?

        They do not need to tell us.

        We already know.

    • They tend to do that...

      Hell, he should thankful he got out alive and without being tortured.

      OOOOoooo say can you seeeEEEEEE.....etc

    • Re:USA Today (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday December 30, 2013 @10:18PM (#45824967)

      . . . meanwhile, all USA Today employees can be sure that their emails are being read and their phones tapped.

      . . . you have the right of speech in America . . . and now the NSA and the FBI have the right of free listen.

      Oh, and USA Today can expect a tough audit from the IRS next year.

      I'm guessing that 2014 will be the year of "The War On Surveillance" . . . but like all other "The War On" wars . . . it is doomed to be lost.

      • Re:USA Today (Score:5, Informative)

        by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:23AM (#45825849)

        it is doomed to be lost

        Which side?

        The only way we could possibly lose is with continued apathy and stupidity. If we lacked those attributes we could defeat them in six months. People act like encryption is impossible or something. Push open source hardware, aggressively replace firmware with custom builds, mitigate as many possible threats as you can, and use the strongest encryption wherever possible.

        Goooood news. With TAO being out in the open, and the US losing billions upon billions to its economy in the coming 12 months because hardware and software can't be trusted, you can bet your ass that the major players will be taking drastic action. Not as a PR job to the public citizen, no no no. It will be drastic action to convince me the person in charge of equipment purchasing that Cisco is still a good bet.

        Why should Cisco care? Why should I choose to utilize them for public infrastructure, secure MPLS between financial institutions, etc. when I know they have been backdoored by the NSA? Especially, when the NSA is actually the least of my worries, but other governments and entities that would do harm to my network?

        Kiss a huge amount of contracts goodbye. The worldwide consumers will most certainly be at least looking for other options right now.

        Remember, the name of the game is NOT to deny them access to your networks from a full frontal assault from the NSA, but only to do just enough to raise the costs associated with mass surveillance several orders. The NSA can't get the financial resources to be approved for several orders more than what their budget has.

        We can most certainly win.

        The problem is that we will not even try.

    • Re:USA Today (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dutchmaan (442553) on Monday December 30, 2013 @10:24PM (#45825013) Homepage
      Maybe you're confusing "person of the year" as something that means good guy or bad guy.. It doesn't. It just means someone that causes change or brings things to light or causes a big splash etc... someone who greatly impacts us.
    • Ironic, then that it was USA Today who first broke the story about NSA warrantless wiretapping and phone metadata collection ***in 2006***

      NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls [usatoday.com]

      From that article, again, this was REPORTED BY USATODAY IN 2006:

      The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
      The NSA program reaches in

      • Is this a scenario for a movie The Falcon And The Snowden?
        If not, you have a thumb big enough. We'll call you. -- Hollywood

      • by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday December 30, 2013 @11:40PM (#45825579)

        Ironic, then that it was USA Today who first broke the story about NSA warrantless wiretapping and phone metadata collection ***in 2006***

        And they had... what evidence, exactly? "Inside anonymous sources" is not the same as thousands of pages of documentation. That old article had very few details, no proof, no names, and nothing that actually proved anything whatsoever. Snowden showed what was actually going one, that it was illegal, and exactly how far it went.

        • I agree strongly with your comment in general, but Snowden didn't show "exactly how far it went". He provided some proof of some amount of wrongdoing. But I imagine there is still plenty of wrongdoing that Snowden didn't become aware of, or acquire evidence of. But still, those wrongdoers are probably feeling a lot less secure in their deeds these days. And that is a win too.

      • Read moar (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @11:59PM (#45825687)
        It's called documentary evidence: Hersch is "certain that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden "changed the whole nature of the debate" about surveillance. Hersh says he and other journalists had written about surveillance, but Snowden was significant because he provided documentary evidence. "Editors love documents. Chicken-shit editors who wouldn't touch stories like that, they love documents, so he changed the whole ball game,"" http://www.theguardian.com/media/media-blog/2013/sep/27/seymour-hersh-obama-nsa-american-media [theguardian.com]
      • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:56AM (#45826357)

        It's proof enough that Snowden matters that we're talking about this now and we weren't in 2006.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Which aptly shows what the government actually is.

    • Re:USA Today (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Monday December 30, 2013 @10:52PM (#45825223) Homepage Journal

      And yet by the government he is named as traitor and fugitive.

      And thus he rode off into the files of History.

      History is full of people authority called scoundrels, but the people have loved them.

    • and Time are the biggest cowards going...naming the Pope (I have nothing against the Pope, just that I see Snowden has done so much more last year).
    • by flyneye (84093)

      Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear? -Yossarian Catch 22

  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:16PM (#45824383) Journal

    Edward Snowden is a shoe in.

    Of the untold numbers of spooks working in / for NSA, Ed Snowden is the only one who has the conscience and the courage to reveal the dastardly unconstitutional secrets of the NSA.

    Thanks, Mr. Snowden, for what you have done for the country !

    • by easyTree (1042254)

      Did you see his appearance on Channel 4 [channel4.com]? He seems to have dropped a little weight - I guess being targeted by those the run the 'land of the free' amusement ride takes its toll :S

      Sad that humanity hasn't evolved wholeness yet :'|

      Not that I'm a particular believer in things religious but if we were to think for a moment about the line "The meek shall inherit the earth", these fucks have got to be running from the inevitable. Oh yeah, Happy New Year!

      • I had an epiphany recently about what that "prophecy" actually meant.

        "The meek shall inherit the earth"

        Ever wondered, especially considering our current trajectory, if what might be meant is that the world will only have the meek left, people having completely butt sexed themselves as a species?

        It would be one of those awesome "twilight zone" style reveals at the end of the show, wouldn't it?

        I am soooo hoping that is what was meant...

        • by EdIII (1114411)

          It actually speaks to humility.

          Only those that are humble and gracious will inherit the Earth. Cocky, egotistical narcissists need not apply.

          Which, let's face it. The majority don't really meet the standards for meekness in the bible anyways.

          Don't worry. If you actually survive some sort of Armageddon and are left with the meek, they will at least be nice people.

          • by easyTree (1042254)

            It's seeming increasingly likely that the meek will all have been turned into food by the power-mongering ghouls.

          • I know what the common interpretation is mr literally minded.

            I am postulating a hollywood end of movie twist grand finale big reveal in the super HD movie that is life.

            Although I hear the book is better...

      • The food in Russia sucks.

      • by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @08:43AM (#45827809)

        He seems to have dropped a little weight - I guess being targeted by those the run the 'land of the free' amusement ride takes its toll :S

        It's actually pretty normal for Americans to lose weight after living in Europe for a few months. Probably a combination of diet and there not being a social phobia of having to walk more than 30 feet.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Mr Snowden is not being given shoes.

    • by Bob9113 (14996) on Monday December 30, 2013 @10:38PM (#45825127) Homepage

      Of the untold numbers of spooks working in / for NSA, Ed Snowden is the only one who has the conscience and the courage to reveal the dastardly unconstitutional secrets of the NSA.

      Actually, two other guys did; William Binney [wikipedia.org] and Thomas Drake [wikipedia.org]. Unfortunately, they went through official channels, so they got harrassed and prosecuted by the government, and without the massive trove of documents Snowden exfiltrated, they were ignored and marginalized by the major media. Their experience is what convinced Snowden that he had no choice but to go outside.

      • by gweihir (88907) on Monday December 30, 2013 @10:51PM (#45825215)

        Indeed. But these two can now take some comfort in the fact that they allowed Snowden to see that official channels do not work. There never is only a lonely hero, there is always a need for some people to prepare the way. And humanity has never been kind or thankful to its heroes either. But I think Snowden understands that.

        • But these two can now take some comfort in the fact that they allowed Snowden to see that official channels do not work

          They were beta-testers of whistle-blowing, performing important Q&A testing on the process so that the final release could make it out to the public without any major bugs.

        • by deconfliction (3458895) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:24AM (#45825859)

          That was beautiful. I only wonder if we'll see the day when Snowden, Manning and Assange are granted freedom. And when the inmates at GITMO are allowed to tell their stories in complete detail, and we are allowed to hear them.

          • by Dutch Gun (899105)

            That was beautiful. I only wonder if we'll see the day when Snowden, Manning and Assange are granted freedom. And when the inmates at GITMO are allowed to tell their stories in complete detail, and we are allowed to hear them.

            Please don't lump those two groups together.

            Snoden exposed government lies and unconstitutional overreach, and I think he did a courageous thing which will ultimately be good for the country (in the same way that Firesheep was ultimately good for internet security).

            Gitmo is full of really dangerous and nasty people who were most likely plotting to murder innocents for the cause of religious zealotry. I'd have a really hard time taking any of their stories at face value when those same people would have no

            • by deconfliction (3458895) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @04:20AM (#45826817)

              Gitmo is full of really dangerous and nasty people who were most likely plotting to murder innocents for the cause of religious zealotry.

              That is a load of complete and utter bullshit. If I wanted to spend 5 minutes netsearching mainstream sources I could easily refute that. GITMO is filled with political prisoners, that have long since paid for their crime. Even if every one of them had Osama Bin Laden's bloodlust to kill innocent U.S. citizens, freeing them all would still be an enhancement to the long term security and liberty of U.S. citizens. Holding the GITMO detainees as we have, and I might add 4 years beyond Obama's day 1 in office signed pledge to get them the hell away from GITMO, ... holding them there is an absolute stain on the nation of the United States of America the likes of which only the terrabytes of revelations of Snowden can compete with.

            • by oobayly (1056050)

              Gitmo is full of really dangerous and nasty people who were most likely plotting to murder innocents for the cause of religious zealotry.

              The charge them with the crimes they're accused of committing. If you're going to hold foreigners up to your principles and beliefs then it's insanely hypocritical to not afford them the protections that you believe people deserve.

              I don't disagree that there are some very dangerous people held at Guantanamo Bay, but to detain them without trial for years on end means that the US government has lost every scrap of respect when it comes to "protecting peoples' rights"

              • I also agree there are likely some very dangerous people held at GITMO. And I completely agree with everything you wrote, so I'll just quote it along with this news story which hit just hours after my score 5 'release all the gitmo prisoners' post- (could be I subconsciously knew of the scheduled release, though the article mentions nothing of the procedural timeline or any events which triggerred this 'milestone')

                http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25558891 [bbc.co.uk]
                "
                31 December 2013 Last updated at 10:32 ET

            • by bds1986 (1268378)

              Gitmo is full of really dangerous and nasty people who were most likely plotting to murder innocents for the cause of religious zealotry.

              How dangerous does this man sound to you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamdouh_Habib [wikipedia.org]

              He was arrested on bullshit reasoning in Pakistan, tortured, locked in Gitmo for 3 years (despite supposedly being a terrorist and having inside knowledge of 9/11), and then released without charge. Government officials have admitted he had nothing to do with terrorism, yet nobody has been held accountable for that.

              If these people are heinous criminals then give them their trial and be done with it already. Criminals st

          • by gweihir (88907)

            Thank you.

  • by jkrise (535370) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:34PM (#45824591) Journal

    In my view; the revelations have far more impact for nations in the World other than the USA (you know; such nations do exist; and are home to 20 times more people than in the US). But when the Internet is controlled largely by the US; and these revelations indicate even more erosion of other nations' peoples' rights; the debate must include the entire World. One fears that just like the US Presidential debate; the implications for the rest of us will be ignored totally.

    • Well, is the internet really controlled by the US? It certainly isn't in China. You can use the same methods they do.

      Your rights are the job of you and your government to protect. There will always be people looking to abuse them. It isn't the duty of some other government to protect them. It's the job of YOUR government.

      Trying to assert that it is the duty of the US to protect your rights - well there certainly is no precedent for that sort of thing in world history.

    • And something tells me that the US will soon loose control over the net because of this...along with billions of dollars as companies abandon US companies, throw our hardware away, and will refuse to have it inside their country...and the biggest reason is the fact the NSA has been shown to spy on other countries and then use that information for the US's financial advantage.

      In fact, I'll bet that soon having said equipment will cause the companies insurance rates to rise to compensate for the known sec
    • by tom229 (1640685)
      Completely agree with this.

      The fact that the NSA is intercepting all foreign communications that go through the United States is only news for the naive. What is news, is that their influence is so absolute it threatens the integrity of the largest US corporations. Their corruption reaching to the absolute depths of products and standards pushed by NIST, RSA, Cisco, Microsoft, and google is astonishing.

      As a Canadian IT professional this takes hosting anything in the US completely off the table. Furthe
  • free output at most motels.
  • That and a full pardon would get him back where he'd be if he'd never brought these things to light.

    Yep, he's jumping around like a five year old on Christmas morning.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @10:17PM (#45824965)
    "USA Today was raided by the Internal Revenue Service of the U.S.A. today."
  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Monday December 30, 2013 @10:24PM (#45825019)
    ...are divided as usual, but many seem to applaud what he did. I do.

    The government however is not divided that I can see. They want his ass on a platter. Strung up, drawn and quartered with his parts sent to the four corners of Scotland as a message. This is telling in this day and age of 'partisan' bickering to keep the masses distracted with largely inconsequential issues. Patriotism is not serving in office. Or recording every bit of data you can weakening our country, technology and economy in the process, to supposedly protect us. It is not giving lip service to the constitution, while you wipe your arse with it by your actions.

    It is about standing up. It is about saying wait, this is NOT what MY country is supposed to be. It is about being able to stand up to a Tory, or a Tea Partier, or a Donkey and saying "fuck you, give me my rights, give me my liberty, or give me death", to paraphrase Patrick Henry. It is not in cow towing to the powers that be, but resisting the ever reaching yoke of the powerful.

    But we don't stand by and large. We listen to Fox news and MSNBC talking heads and nod. We scream at our football games or hope to see a blurred nipple slip on TMZ. We laugh at cat memes and snapchat sext our co-workers while the spouse is away. We wonder at the changes in the climate then get into our unneeded and wasteful SUV.

    What happened to our spine? The one that beat the brits? The one that helped show Germany and Japan where they could put it when they wanted to remake the world into their bleak image? Why are we more interested in goatse, and goth chicks and godzilla than righting our government? Why can 10 random people not discuss issues without at least 1 to 2 people completely derailing any progress? Why do we continually bend over while those in power plum our innermost depths to their own ends?

    I wish I knew the answers. I though many of these thoughts as a teen 20 years ago. Then I had the optimism to think that we were on the brink. That we would stand, that a revolution was imminent. That the way things were would be changed and we had the power to do it. I was cynical then, but had hope. Now I think I am a defeatist. I would like more than just a few people to prove me wrong. The Snowdens of the world are currently the exception that proves the rule. Why is this?

    • by shadowofwind (1209890) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:46AM (#45826563)

      People were more aggressive and less risk adverse in the past, and not as self-absorbed, but for the most part were never willing to stand up for what was right. For example, when Thomas Paine was in prison in France, the founding fathers left him hung out to dry. Nobody stood up to stop the genocide against Native Americans. There was a regional power struggle between the north and south US, which had different cultures, but poor southern white men did essentially nothing to help black men. America fought Germany because Germany declared war on the US, not because they were willing to fight Fascism, and the US did very little to help Jews escape. America fought Japan because they were pissed about Peal Harbor, not because of what Japan was doing in China. Very much of the domestic opposition to the war in Vietnam came from people who wanted to stay home, enjoy benefits of birth control pills, penicillin, and smoke weed, not because they had a more principled objection. I could go on.

      I think its possible to understand a lot about "why this is", but we've got to be willing to give up our own vanity, and face the possibility that our ideals not only will not but can not be realized in anything like the form and time-frame that we may have hoped for. Our problems go very, very deep, its not like humanity just went off the tracks a few decades ago or even a few thousand years ago. Study animal behavior closely and you'll see that its all fucked up to, in pretty much the same ways. Maintaining idealism in the face of this takes an incredible patience, and a kind of courage. If we value courage, here's something to prove ourselves on maybe.

      • Wow. This post you just made has forced me to rethink a few perspectives I have about Founding Fathers and my presumed judgement that we were losing spine "these days."

        And you are right; America's "spine" has always been a vain illusion -- it never existed.

        This actually gives me hope, because we may not be deteriorating into osteoporosis, we just have to find a way to evolve into walking upright!

    • I think you've seen one too many movies about the glories of revolutions. I've read a bit about the phenomena. With few exceptions they share a common theme - they are bloody, cruel, and frequenly result in regimes worse than those they hoped to replace. So let's see what awaits in revolution:

      1. I face death from battle, exposure, starvation, disease, etc. on an almost daily basis.
      2. It is highly likely that at least one of my kids would lose their life. Not to mention that all of them would be pulled f

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "we didn't know just how much we'd surrendered."

    I find this insulting. Read FISA, read the Patriot act and related bills. If you interpret the language liberally(meaning as open ended as possible) then you will realize all that Snowden leaked was already known. And if you think they'd never do that, then you're putting your head in the sand, they don't pass laws for no reason.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Knowing something is different from having the facts available for most people. There needs to be a catalyst that makes it clear to them. Snowden did just that.

  • by Zibodiz (2160038) on Monday December 30, 2013 @10:57PM (#45825271)
    He deserves all the recognition we can give him. Whether he did things the right way or not, he did what he thought he should do for the good of Americans, even though he knew it would result in his becoming a refugee in another country, or possibly imprisoned and tortured here in the states. He didn't do it for money, and I doubt he did it for fame; he did it because his conscience told him he had to. He is a patriot who deserves to be treated as one. Here's to hoping he gets a Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Who gives a crap what "titles" USA Today bestows? They're the McDonalds of news media.
  • I remember when... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ApplePy (2703131) on Monday December 30, 2013 @11:39PM (#45825561)

    Back in my day, the *Russian* spooks defected *to* the *USA*.

    Now get off my lawn!

    Except that's damnably creepy when you think about what a change that is.

    • by GrBear (63712)

      Back in my day, the *Russian* spooks defected *to* the *USA*.

      ... and given jobs at the NSA bringing their expertise.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:51AM (#45826039) Homepage

    That's the thing that I can't get past. We haven't surrendered anything. We haven't "traded" security for liberty. We haven't made any bargains of the sort. All of these "erosions" on our freedoms and rights have been perpetrated against us without our will and without our knowledge. They have lied and cheated and stolen from us our birthrights as humans as recognized and defined to us under the US constitution. And without the revelations, the world would still be living under the huge, thick blanket of lies.

    Are we all expected to blame ourselves for "voting someone in"? This goes back futher than many people know and isn't tied to any one president or any one political party. We keep wanting to simplify everything to the point that we simply can't and do not want to understand the full scope of the disillusionment we are experiencing.

    • Thank you for this comment.

      The last time I voted FOR a Presidential candidate, it was Dennis Kucinnich. I voted for Ross Perot instead of Clinton before that.

      When choosing between Obama against a small gaggle of morons, crooks and fools, I held my nose and voted for someone I knew wouldn't take us far away from the Bush era policies. I don't vote FOR keeping GitMo open or making all treaties a joke with Drone assassination programs. I didn't vote FOR austerity measures when a simple, well funded public work

    • by Hatta (162192)

      No, we blame ourselves for not taking to the streets.We have a list of grievances far worse than those found in the Declaration of Independence. By failing to do anything about them, we have surrendered.

  • Seriously. How many times do people need to be beaten over the head with reality before they actually acquire the correct information.

    We're a democratic republic.

    We have democratic forms of selection for various public offices.

    What we do NOT have is direct rule by the citizenry.

    • by Dutch Gun (899105)

      Seriously. How many times do people need to be beaten over the head with reality before they actually acquire the correct information.

      We're a democratic republic.

      We have democratic forms of selection for various public offices.

      What we do NOT have is direct rule by the citizenry.

      "Democracy" is colloquially used to generalize any form of representative government in which power is ultimately wielded by the people, whether directly or indirectly, which includes democratic republics like ours. Frankly, I'm not sure the distinction matters except in an academic sense, since there really aren't any "pure" democratic governments operating in the world anyhow - it's a largely theoretical and wholly unpractical form of government at any sort of significant scale, for obvious reasons. So,

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