Permanent Record

Six years ago, Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the mass surveillance of, well, anybdoy & everybody. I was familiar with some of the background story as well as surveillance mechanisms through CITIZENFOUR, Snowden, and Schneier on Security, but reading Permanent Record blew my mind all over again. It is one of the best and most important books of the decade: I had to laugh, I had to cry, I was entertained, and I was educated.

In chapter 27 („Moscow“), Snowden writes:

All told, we were trapped in the airport for a biblical forty days and forty nights. Over the course of those days, I applied to a total of twenty-seven countries for political asylum. Not a single one of them was willing to stand up to American pressure, with some countries refusing outright, and others declaring that they were unable to even consider my request until I arrived in their territory—a feat that was impossible.

Call me naive, but I always wondered why he didn’t end up here in Switzerland. Sure, officially the United States of America would have been mad at Switzerland for a while. But inofficially, they might have been thankful that Snowden is in a (relatively) neutral country and not stuck in Russia anymore. Now that he’s applying for asylum in Europe again, I hope he’ll get invited by us; it would be an honor and a pleasure to have him here.

By the way, in chapter 15 („Geneva“), Snowden writes:

On Wednesday, I might be asked how best to destroy-after-transmitting (the technological version of burn-after-reading) a disc of customer records that a CO had managed to purchase from a crooked Swisscom employee.

So that person is not a whistleblower, but Edward Snowden is—in my book, he’s even a hero.


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