Keen On Security & Privacy

KeenON: Journalist and NSA Expert Barton Gellman

KeenON_Logo_FinalTechonomy is proud to present KeenON, a series of interviews by techonologist and author Andrew Keen that explores the intersection of tech, business, and culture.

It isn’t surprising that Edward Snowden chose then Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman as one of the earliest recipients of his leaked NSA documents. Gellman is the author of a best-selling book about Dick Cheney as well as many influential articles about the war on terror, and thus was a natural choice for Snowden when he sought a trustworthy journalist to publicize the PRISM materials.

So was Snowden a hero? Not surprisingly, Gellman won’t be drawn into such a clichéd analysis. What he does insist, however, is that Snowden was an important figure who has sparked a massively important conversation—one, in his words, with “legs”—that is still going on today. It’s a subject, Gellman insists, that has not only changed the way that Silicon Valley companies like Google and Twitter do their data business with the U.S. government, but may have changed the nature of journalism. Indeed, it’s such a vital subject that Gellman himself is currently writing a book about what he calls our “surveillance-industrial” state of affairs. The book, he says, will break new ground in how we imagine our electronically networked world.

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  • Josh Parker

    If Snowden were a hero, he would have publicized the material he took without giving gigabytes of data to Russia and China. How did that help “spark a massively important debate?” It just helped the world’s worst two privacy offenders get away with even more. Going to the press with proof of what the NSA was doing did indeed start an important debate; the massive data dump to non-democratic oppressive governments did not, and this suggests there may be more to his story than meets the eye.