NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed his decision to leak countless top secret documents to journalists was taken after his efforts to improve the NSA's security practices were ignored.
In a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times, the former NSA contractor continued to justify his decision to leak thousands of documents relating to the surveillance practices of the American and British security services.
"So long as there's broad support amongst a people, it can be argued there's a level of legitimacy even to the most invasive and morally wrong program, as it was an informed and willing decision," the 30-year-old explained.
"However, programs that are implemented in secret, out of public oversight, lack that legitimacy, and that's a problem. It also represents a dangerous normalisation of ‘governing in the dark', where decisions with enormous public impact occur without any public input."
Snowden also revealed the series of events that led to him making the decision to hand the documents – including those relating to the PRISM scandal – over to the Guardian and The New York Times.
He explained that it was a gradual process as he became frustrated that his efforts to prove the existence of security flaws in the NSA's systems fell on deaf ears and even resulted in "petty email spats" and disciplinary action. He said that he was convinced that trying to work through the NSA's systems was a fruitless effort.
The New York Times reports that Snowden finally decided to take action when he discovered a document during a system cleanse, which was "too highly classified to be where it was". "Curiosity prevailed," he said.
On his decision to become the public face of the story, Snowden said that he effectively had no choice if he wanted to be taken seriously. He said that if he had made the leaks as an anonymous insider, he would have been discredited and his work "buried forever".
The fallout of Snowden's leaks and the trickle of revelations from The New York Times and the Guardian has sent shockwaves across the technology industry, with governments, major enterprise technology brands and consumer technology firms all accused of malpractice at some stage.
On several occasions, the EU has stepped in, most recently insisting that European businesses should continue to make use of cloud computing services in spite of the surveillance revelations.
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