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US spying limiting people's ability to think: Snowden


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US surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden says Washington's spy programs are limiting people's ability to speak and think freely, diminishing their creativity, and making their lives insecure. Snowden, a former US National Security Agency (NSA) employee, made the remarks in one of the short video clips posted on the WikiLeaks website on Friday night that the whistle-blowing organization said were filmed on Wednesday. "People all over the world are realizing that these programs don't make us more safe, they hurt our economy, they hurt our country, they limit our ability to speak and think and live and be creative, to have relationships, to associate freely," said Snowden, who was granted asylum in Russia on August 1. Snowden said the US government was "unwilling to prosecute high officials who lied to Congress and the country on camera, but they'll stop at nothing to persecute someone who told them the truth." "If we can't understand the policies and programs of our government we can't grant our consent in regulating them," he added. Snowden underlined the dangers of NSA spy programs, saying, "It's a sort of dragnet mass surveillance that puts entire populations under a sort of eye that sees everything, even when it's not needed." In June, Snowden leaked two top secret US government spying programs under which the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data from major Internet companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft. He also revealed information about NSA espionage activities targeting friendly countries across the world. In an interview with Press TV on September 14, Iranian political analyst Hamid Golpira said the world is becoming a total surveillance Orwellian world, due to the activities of intelligence agencies. Golpira said that probably one of the main goals of the NSA spying is to gather metadata. "There is something else going on that everyone is not talking about so much... the concept of metadata. Perhaps, one of the main goals of this is to gather what they call big data or metadata... to analyze what they call meta-trends or major trends in society, and some of that can be used to try to figure out what people are thinking and also to figure out how to influence people's thinking," he said. "And also to analyze if their previous efforts to influence people's way of thinking have been successful. That's how some of this metadata analysis works," Golpira added. "Unless there are some restraints put on this whole thing, we are heading toward a kind of total surveillance Orwellian world, as Orwell described in his book 1984, if it is not already more or less there, which is not a good thing for privacy, and it is not a good thing for a lot of issues. And it is not a good thing for people who are working for social justice if some of this surveillance is meant to undermine that," he stated. "It is not a good thing as far as... allowing people to think for themselves, if this metadata is being used to analyze trends and to figure out what people are thinking and to figure out how to influence people's way of thinking. So, it is not going in the best direction... unless the masses of the people begin to... rise up in large numbers and begin to say, OK, we want a little bit of control on this, we do not want a total surveillance world," Golpira observed.



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