Quotes from Permanent Record Book by Edward Snowden


Hi guys! You might notice what books I am reading from my reading list. I commit myself reading at least four books per month. Permanent Record Book by Edward Snowden is one of my favourite this month. Followings are excerpt from the books. Hope you enjoy and get the information.

My name is Edward Joseph Snowden. I used to work for the government, but now I work for the public. It took me nearly three decades to recognize that there was a distinction, and when I did, it got me into a bit of trouble at the office. As a result, I now spend my time trying to protect the public from the person I used to be—a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA), just another young technologist out to build what I was sure would be a better world.

The reason you’re reading this book is that I did a dangerous thing for a man in my position: I decided to tell the truth. I collected internal IC documents that gave evidence of the US government’s lawbreaking and turned them over to journalists, who vetted and published them to a scandalized world.

This book is about what led up to that decision, the moral and ethical principles that informed it, and how they came to be—which means that it’s also about my life.

What makes a life? More than what we say; more, even, than what we do. A life is also what we love, and what we believe in. For me, what I love and believe in the most is connection, human connection, and the technologies by which that is achieved. Those technologies include books, of course. But for my generation, connection has largely meant the Internet.

I was lost, and fell into a dark mood while I struggled with my conscience. I love my country, and I believe in public service—my whole family, my whole family line for centuries, is filled with men and women who have spent their lives serving this country and its citizens. I myself had sworn an oath of service not to an agency, nor even a government, but to the public, in support and defense of the Constitution, whose guarantee of civil liberties had been so flagrantly violated. Now I was more than part of that violation: I was party to it. All of that work, all of those years—who was I working for? How was I to balance my contract of secrecy with the agencies that employed me and the oath I’d sworn to my country’s founding principles? To whom, or what, did I owe the greater allegiance? At what point was I morally obliged to break the law?

The Internet has become almost as integral to our lives as the air through which so many of its communications travel. And, as we’ve all been reminded—every time our social media feeds alert us to a post that tags us in a compromising light—to digitize something is to record it, in a format that will last forever.

My generation was the last in American and perhaps even in world history for which this is true—the last undigitized generation, whose childhoods aren’t up on the cloud but are mostly trapped in analog formats like handwritten diaries and Polaroids and VHS cassettes, tangible and imperfect artifacts that degrade with age and can be lost irretrievably. My schoolwork was done on paper with pencils and erasers, not on networked tablets that logged my keystrokes.

The doors to the most secretive intelligence agencies were flung wide open to young technologists like myself. And so the geek inherited the earth.

The freedom of a country can only be measured by its respect for the rights of its citizens, and it’s my conviction that these rights are in fact limitations of state power that define exactly where and when a government may not infringe into that domain of personal or individual freedoms that during the American Revolution was called “liberty” and during the Internet Revolution is called “privacy.”

Peering at life through a window can ultimately abstract us from our actions and limit any meaningful confrontation with their consequences.

I was young, and while my curiosity was pure, it was also, in retrospect, pretty psychologically revealing, in that some of my earliest hacking attempts were directed toward allaying my neuroses. The more I came to know about the fragility of computer security, the more I worried over the consequences of trusting the wrong machine. As a teenager, my first hack that ever courted trouble dealt with a fear that suddenly became all I could think about: the threat of a full-on, scorched-earth nuclear holocaust.

When I was a teen, I think I was a touch too enamored of the idea that life’s most important questions are binary, meaning that one answer is always Right, and all the rest of the answers are Wrong. I think I was enchanted by the model of computer programming, whose questions can only be answered in one of two ways: 1 or 0, the machine-code version of Yes or No, True or False.

In the 1990s, the Internet had yet to fall victim to the greatest iniquity in digital history: the move by both government and businesses to link, as intimately as possible, users’ online personas to their offline legal identity.

Once the ubiquity of collection was combined with the permanency of storage, all any government had to do was select a person or a group to scapegoat and go searching – as I’d gone searching through the agency’s files – for evidence of a suitable crime

This, to my thinking, actually represented the great nexus of the Intelligence Community and the tech industry: both are entrenched and unelected powers that pride themselves on maintaining absolute secrecy about their developments. Both believe that they have the solutions for everything, which they never hesitate to unilaterally impose. Above all, they both believe that these solutions are inherently apolitical, because they’re based on data, whose prerogatives are regarded as preferable to the chaotic whims of the common citizen.

The fact is, no one with a biography like mine ever comes comfortably to autobiography. It’s hard to have spent so much of my life trying to avoid identification, only to turn around completely and share “personal disclosures” in a book.

America’s fundamental laws exist to make the job of law enforcement not easier but harder. This isn’t a bug, it’s a core feature of democracy.

I had hoped to serve my country, but instead I went to work for it. This is not a trivial distinction.

Instead, I was resolved to bring to light a single, all-encompassing fact: that my government had developed and deployed a global system of mass surveillance without the knowledge or consent of its citizenry.

The NSA’s surveillance programs, its domestic surveillance programs in particular, flouted the Fourth Amendment completely.

Ultimately, every language, including English, demonstrates its culture’s relationship to power by how it chooses to define the act of disclosure. Even the nautically derived English words that seem neutral and benign frame the act from the perspective of the institution that perceives itself wronged, not of the public that the institution has failed.

Grab yourself Permanent Record book by Edward Snowden

You can a documentary about him, too following:

Until next time.
Happy reading!