As soon as the news of the surveillance program broke out, public debates ensued over Snowden’s actions, debates which continue to this day. While some people praised his efforts in the name of public service, others condemned him for compromising state security.
While explaining his motivation behind the revelations, Snowden said, “My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”
It is understandable that governments need to spy on some of the marked individuals to ensure law and order and prevent terrorism, but spying on the general public is unacceptable under any circumstance. Gathering data on private emails and listening in on personal phone calls is a blatant invasion of our privacy and, not to mention, entirely illegal.
Apart from the US government’s domestic surveillance program, the American agency also spied on foreign diplomats and even world leaders, which goes entirely against the norms and ethics of international diplomacy. Who gives the US government the right to carry out such activities?
It is disappointing to see how these surveillance programs have outgrown democratic controls. They highlight not just the failure of democracy but also the authoritative tendencies of the state. Hence, it is fair to conclude that Snowden was justified in his actions because he was the one who pointed out these transgressions.