Snowden Optimistic About USA Freedom Act's Implications for Future
The mass metadata collection law is no more, and the whistleblower who helped bring the practice to light is optimistic about what it means for the future.President Obama signed the USA Freedom Act into law on June 2, after the U.S Senate passed the new surveillance bill in a 67-32 vote. With the new act, Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act—which enabled the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect bulk metadata on Americans' communications—is no more. Instead, new provisions are in place to help protect privacy. Revelations about the NSA's collecting bulk metadata first came to light after whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the metadata program's existence in June 2013. Snowden has been on the run ever since and is currently in Russia. Snowden participated in an Amnesty International Webcast on June 2, in which he was asked about his views on the USA Freedom Act and his role in bringing about surveillance reform. "I have lost a lot of things," Snowden said. "I can no longer see my family. I can no longer live in my home. But on the other hand, the things I have received personally and we have all benefited from publicly, make it all worth it." Snowden emphasized that progress has been made since his first disclosures in 2013 as there is now more awareness about the surveillance activities of the U.S. government and its allies that could be construed as a violation of individual rights.
"We get a different quality of government when they are accountable to the public," Snowden said. "It's not that every intelligence service is evil, or that surveillance programs are all terrible and never do any good at all, we want to be able to have some level of intelligence gathering and we want to be able to investigate criminals."