Edward Snowden has made two prominent appearances in the last two days. The first in an interview with the Washington Post in which he declared "mission accomplished," by which he means that his leaking of secret NSA documents has started a debate on the propriety of the practices he exposed.
This interpretation of events is indisputable. Whether it was any of his business to do what it took to start the debate is another matter.
But the next day, Snowden delivered a short Christmas Day message on British television, and here he got carried away, to put it kindly:
"A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They'll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves -- an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought. And that's a problem, because privacy matters. Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be."
Perhaps NSA capabilities remain to be disclosed which are many orders of magnitude more invasive than what we have heretofore seen, but what we know now does not justify Snowden's nutty statement here. The child he speaks of will plainly have many opportunities for privacy — in their own room talking to siblings, out in a park with friends, believe it or not, even online.
Is it conceivable that someone could be collecting information about those encounters? I suppose it's theoretically possible. Is it plausible that any government or other agency is going to even want to do that, let alone go to the trouble of it? No, of course not.
Read his words carefully: He says that someone will be recording and analyzing our every thought. This is "they put a chip in my brain" stuff.
Some people get just plain nuts about privacy, and clearly Snowden is one of them. Frankly it makes me all the more angry at the NSA for doing such a miserable non-job at screening trusted workers. Nothing about the revelations we've heard so far justifies the dystopian future Snowden predicts.
We've started the debate Snowden mentioned on December 24. It's happening whether you like it or not, and I would say some changes are necessary because of it. We need to make those changes based on rational analysis of threats and real-world actions, not delusions.