Joe Rogan Experience #1536 - Edward Snowden | Summary and Q&A

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September 15, 2020
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Joe Rogan Experience #1536 - Edward Snowden

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Summary

In this video, Edward Snowden discusses the recent ruling by the ninth district court of appeals on the illegality of the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' phone records. He explains the significance of this ruling and how it is a victory for privacy rights. Snowden also delves into the history of the Patriot Act and its disingenuous name, as well as the dangers of allowing companies like Facebook and Google to have access to our private communications. He discusses the NSO Group and their Pegasus malware, which targets flaws in popular devices like iPhones. Snowden emphasizes the importance of accountability and criminal liability for those who violate privacy rights. Despite the challenges, he remains optimistic and believes that change is possible.

Questions & Answers

Q: What was the recent ruling by the ninth district court of appeals?

The recent ruling by the ninth district court of appeals stated that the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' phone records was illegal. This ruling is significant because it came from a panel of judges and not just a single judge. It is a victory for privacy rights and a blow to the federal surveillance programs.

Q: What is the significance of this ruling?

This ruling is significant because it vindicates what Edward Snowden exposed in 2013 about the warrantless wiretapping program. It confirms that the government's actions were illegal and violated privacy rights. It sets a precedent and raises questions about the extent of government surveillance and the need for checks and balances.

Q: What was the provision in the Patriot Act that allowed for the bulk collection of phone records?

There was a provision in the Patriot Act that allowed for the bulk collection of phone records, known as Section 215. This provision was misleadingly named and gave the government broad powers to collect Americans' phone records without individualized suspicion.

Q: How does the NSA's bulk collection of phone records violate privacy rights?

The NSA's bulk collection of phone records violates privacy rights because it involves collecting and analyzing the metadata of millions of Americans' phone calls. This information can reveal intimate details about an individual's life, including their social connections, activities, and even political affiliations. It is a mass surveillance program with no individualized suspicion.

Q: Why is the name "Patriot Act" disingenuous?

The name "Patriot Act" is disingenuous because it implies that being against the act is against patriotism. It creates a false dichotomy where those who oppose the act are labeled as unpatriotic. Furthermore, the act itself has provisions that infringe on civil liberties, such as allowing for warrantless searches and surveillance.

Q: How do companies like Facebook and Google handle requests for user data?

Companies like Facebook and Google have access to users' communications and data, and they have the ability to hand over this information to the government when requested. While they may do a good job in protecting user privacy from external threats, they still have the ability to access and share user data with authorities under certain circumstances, such as a court warrant.

Q: What is end-to-end encryption and why are companies pushing back against banning it?

End-to-end encryption is a method of secure communication where only the individuals at either end of a communication have access to the encryption keys to decrypt the messages. Companies like Facebook and Google have started implementing this technology to ensure that even they cannot access users' communications. However, some governments and law enforcement agencies argue that by implementing end-to-end encryption, companies are hindering their ability to investigate crimes and gather evidence. This has sparked a debate about striking a balance between privacy and security.

Q: What is the NSO Group and what does their Pegasus malware do?

The NSO Group is an Israeli company that specializes in developing and selling malware, particularly their Pegasus malware. Pegasus is designed to exploit vulnerabilities in popular devices, especially iPhones. Once installed, it can grant the attacker complete control and access to the targeted device, including access to calls, messages, and other private information.

Q: How does the NSO Group's Pegasus malware target iPhones more effectively?

The NSO Group's Pegasus malware targets iPhones more effectively because iPhones, despite their security measures, are a monoculture, meaning that a large number of people use iPhones, and they tend to run on a similar version of iOS. This makes it easier for attackers to exploit specific vulnerabilities and gain access to a wide range of devices. In contrast, Android phones have a diversified ecosystem with various versions and hardware configurations, making it harder to develop exploits that work universally.

Q: What is the role of the Citizen Lab in investigating state-sponsored malware attacks?

Citizen Lab is a research group based at a university in Canada. They specialize in investigating and exposing state-sponsored and corporate malware attacks on civil society. They have been at the forefront of researching the actions of the NSO Group and tracking their targets. Their work plays a crucial role in raising awareness, holding governments accountable, and advocating for better privacy protections.

Q: What has been the response from the government and the courts to the illegality of the surveillance programs?

The response from the government and the courts has been mixed. While the recent ruling by the ninth district court of appeals highlights the illegality of the NSA's surveillance programs, it alone does not guarantee significant changes. The government has a team of skilled lawyers who try to find loopholes and slightly modify the programs to continue their activities. Additionally, there is a lack of criminal liability for those responsible for violating privacy rights, which perpetuates a culture of unaccountability and impunity.

Takeaways

Edward Snowden's discussion sheds light on the importance of privacy rights and the need for checks and balances on government surveillance. The recent ruling by the ninth district court of appeals, declaring the NSA's bulk collection of phone records illegal, is seen as a victory for privacy rights. However, there is still a long way to go in holding government officials accountable and ensuring meaningful change. The challenges lie in the culture of unaccountability and the power imbalances that exist. Nevertheless, Snowden emphasizes the importance of optimism, as change is possible, but it requires structural changes and a collective effort from individuals to demand privacy rights and accountability from those in power.

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