Read Edward Snowden’s Permanent Record in recent weeks. Not sure what the rationale for this book is. Sort of an autobiography meant as an apologia, it seems. The first range of chapters didn’t do much for me. In the later chapters there’s more I found interesting.

Takeaways are that despite his young age he was way deeper involved with the three letter agencies than those agencies after he left implied. His last more removed position was his way of building an exit strategy, though the agencies said that made his role insignificant. The point isn’t where he worked last, but what he did in the years before. Working with lots of contractors adds to an agency’s plausible deniability however.

The book also makes clearer what it is that he currently does, even in his isolated state in Russia (where he stranded as his passport was canceled by the US mid flight, while en route to South America), why he chose to work with reporters the way he did, and how he could ensure nothing of the material he took with him was with him when he left Hong Kong.

Other than that, the book usefully makes the key points again that matter: that meta data is much more telling about you than the name suggests, that there is a huge difference between scooping everything up to retroactively search for things later, versus the previous method of searching for additional information once something suspicious has been detected. This makes all of us suspect by default, depending on the type of light shed on all the data collected about us already.

Witchhunt Snowden
A poster of Edward Snowden in Berlin, I took this photo in 2014 a year after the first publications

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