Estremera: Lessons from Snowden

IF there's any realization from the #LeniLeaks that showed how supporters of Leni Robredo and the Office of the Vice President were talking about what should be done and what they should bring in protest rallies against the present government and how they intend to build up the crowd, it's that we, as a country, never really took cybersecurity seriously.

Sorry, Edward Snowden, you risked your life for Internet users, but we were not listening. Rather, high government officials, their rah-rah girls and top financier, and a spattering of newspaper writers did not have any qualms about talking about their plans on an Internet group whose privacy is set as public.

You were warning the world that the Internet was tracking us down by keeping our information in metadata that can easily be pieced together by anyone interested to track us down and an absolute power of the US of A to extract real content, but no, high government officials, their rah-rah girls and top financier, and a spattering of newspaper writers have no time to bother themselves about metadata, much less the PRISM, they'd rather flaunt their conversation and maybe feel important.

Wait, do we even know what Snowden stood up for, or were we not able to go beyond his good looks? If the #LeniLeaks were to be the basis, then Snowden was just another pretty face. But he said what Leni and her friends must be muttering right now long before we even imagined that the person we have long been calling Mayor will become our President.

In the website dedicated to free Snowden (www.edwardsnowden.com), the opening page carries his words: “I don't want to live in a world where everything I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity and love or friendship is recorded.”

A former intelligence community office, he was the one who revealed "a vital public window into the NSA and its international intelligence partners' secrete mass surveillance programs and capabilities".

Before we proceed, just a short segue to what metadata is. It's data within a data that can be pieced together to stand alone as one full information. In the old world, it's what we call a citation, a footnote, an op. cit. and a loc. cit. Remember them? They point us to things and books and references, and in this case, the metadata in the computer points to us, who we are, where we live, where we've been, who we've been talking to, what we bought.

Let's segue further into PRISM, what Snowden was more concerned about. PRISM is not metadata, he said. Yes, while metadata can track us through the digital footprints we leave behind, the greater problem is PRISM.

"PRISM is about content. It's a program through which the government could compel corporate America, it could deputize corporate America to do its dirty work for the NSA. And even though some of these companies did resist, even though some of them -- I believe Yahoo was one of them — challenged them in court, they all lost," Snowden said in an interview at Ted Talks.

Imagine, Snowden was panicking for us about this two years ago. But we prefer our conversations to be in public, and then we get angry when someone listens in. That's sense of entitlement and misguided importance defined.

The Global Filipino Diaspora Council, whose yahoo groups conversation was exposed over the weekend, could not be bothered with this concern, and now has to learn the lesson fast. Anything set to public can be seen by any individual all over the world. Anything upload are cached, or worse, shared and downloaded. Meaning, once it's up, you have the whole world and seven-billion people to search and disarm.

That is the reality of today.

While you're at it, it pays to learn from Snowden, him, who first rallied the techie world to "take back the internet".

No, it wasn't Rappler.com's Maria Ressa who first said those words. It was Snowden, as he explained how the public can take back the Internet by demanding that what is private should be kept private. (But anything that's public, is fair game. Of course!)

"This is not a left or right issue. Our basic freedoms, and when I say our, I don't just mean Americans, I mean people around the world, it's not a partisan issue. These are things that all people believe, and it's up to all of us to protect them, and to people who have seen and enjoyed a free and open Internet, it's up to us to preserve that liberty for the next generation to enjoy, and if we don't change things, if we don't stand up to make the changes we need to do to keep the Internet safe, not just for us but for everyone, we're going to lose that, and that would be a tremendous loss, not just for us, but for the world," Snowden said, and that is how to take back the Internet, and not by shutting up or blocking the outspoken in social media and labeling them as trolls and tards.

*****

saestremera@yahoo.com
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