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“The politics nwe have a national crisis. We are at war nthere is no politics politics so our news cycle is changing if not daily nthen hourly or by the and there s so much ninformation out there today and it s difficult to navigate nthe waters of the news over 2980 deaths. It was another rough day nfor the financial. Markets they re going to do.
Na. 30 day. Extension over 4700. Deaths.
Which means nanother month of this. So one of the things ni want to do is talk to some of the biggest nthinkers in the world and say. And what are nthe unforeseen consequences of what s happening nin real time we have entered into nthis next phase. That has required me under nthe circumstances to advance na proclamation of a state of emergency in the state of california.
Now one of the biggest nquestions is all of these emergency measures. All of the data collection nto sort of say have knock on effects and i think one of nthe greatest thinkers around civil liberties and these unforeseen nconsequences is edward snowden. This is the truth nthis is what s happening you should decide whether nwe need to be doing this so today. We re going to ntalk to him about his thoughts non.
The covid virus as well as what does that mean nfor our civil liberties. Edward snowden nthanks for being here today it s a pleasure to be with you let s just jump into it why does it seem like nwe re so ill prepared we re acting like covid 19 nis. A never seen before virus and that this is njust out of nowhere surprise surprise. You know we had sars nwe had mers.
We ve had these types nof things before and in fact. We knew that we were going nto be having more of them yet. We were not set up or it seems like we were completely taken aback that this is happening now and is having you know nsuch a profound effect when if you talk to any nepidemiologist or virologist. They knew that nthis was going to happen.
There is nothing more nforeseeable as a public health crisis nfor. You know again a world where we are just nliving on top of each other in crowded and polluted cities than a pandemic and yeah every academic nevery researcher who s looked at this nknew this was coming and in fact neven intelligence agencies. I can tell you firsthand because ni used to read the reports had been planning nfor pandemics and yet when we needed it. Nthe system has now failed us.
And it has failed us ncomprehensively and the thing that i find ngrotesque about this situation is that now the people nwho are being asked to sacrifice the most nare. The people who are in the most nprecarious positions. Who have the least to give we re constantly being told. We re the richest country nin the world.
But when people start nlosing their jobs when rents become ndifficult to pay. Because there s no work for nany waitress in any restaurant in new york. Right. Now nwhere are our resources.
When our hospitals. Say nthey need ventilators. You know where is nall this great technology. That s being used to surveil neverybody.
You know down to the tiniest toenail nwhen. We need it to create things that actually save lives in south. Korea. Nwhich has been successful in at least flattening ntheir curve the government s been nsending text messages to people who have come ninto contact with people that they know have covid.
19. Which means they know nwho has covid. 19. They know who they re meeting they know their ntext message numbers.
They know how to get in touch nwith. Them the korea centers for disease. Ncontrol and prevention uses data. Provided by local ntelecommunications companies taiwan is doing na.
Where if they know nyou re infected. They re going to put na mobile fence around you and if you leave nyou re going to get in trouble if you leave your nit s basically the your mobile phone. Nis your new ankle bracelet you know we look nat. What china did including welding ncertain doors shut and we seem to be nsort of knee jerk ad.
Hoc and we re you know nculturally. We can t do this yet are our numbers nare through the roof..
So are autocratic regimes better at dealing with things like this nthan. Democratic ones. I don t think so i mean nthere are arguments being made that china can do things nthat. The united states can t now that doesn t mean that what these autocratic ncountries are doing is actually more effective.
There are really only two things nthat. We know to be true one is that no one knows nthe true number of infected. Because we can only nin the absolute best case. Know the confirmed cases of people nthat.
We ve actually tested and once you start to layer in nthis autocratic or i would argue nmore authoritarian type of policy structure what you end up seeing nis that instead of policy being guided nby science and facts you begin to see things nlike information releases becoming political decisions now this is not new in fact. The spanish flu naround 1918. Did not actually originate nin spain. It was actually spreading nin world war i through the trenches where everybody nwas in terrible conditions.
But the militaries of the day nhad imposed restrictions on what the press could report that could impact nthe war effort and so spain nbeing. A neutral country was publishing. What they were actually nseeing in their country. And so we just presumed nbecause.
They were the only ones that were telling the truth nthat. It came from them now we re a little further ahead nthan that today. But that doesn t erase the fact nthat people in power. Who see that there is na political advantage to disguising nor.
Concealing or massaging. Or denying numbers nmay choose to lie about it it s happened before. And it s nalmost certainly happening. Now.
If you re looking nat countries. Like china. Which seems to have flattened how much can we trust that nthose numbers are actually true. I don t think we can particularly.
We. See nthe chinese government recently working to expel nwestern journalists at precisely this moment. Where we need credible nindependent reporting from this kind of region and then there s all of these nrumors and initial reports that say things like you know nthe number of urns shipments for burials have ngone way up way beyond. What you would expect nfrom.
The official numbers and the fact that we cannot nget independent verification of the facts gives us reason nto doubt the official story and the reality nthat. We need to accept. Which is nan uncomfortable reality is that even in places. Nthat are not autocratic regimes.
They re going to have na second wave. They re going to have na third wave. They re going to have na fourth wave based on all of the best medical analysis. Nthat.
We have available today. I think i was reading a paper this morning nthat was from i think that the chan school nof public health at. I think it was nharvard university. That said pumping the brakes is going to have to be nthe new strategy.
Which means we re at nthe beginning of as you say you know second third nfourth waves of this coming. And so all of these measures nare going to get more severe and what then happens nto civil liberties to privacy rights to democracy. I mean what are the knock on neffects that you can see i mean. This is really nthe central question of this moment in history.
What we see is everyone nis. Fearful and hopeless. And so worried about today that we have nreally stopped thinking about what tomorrow. Nwill look like as a result of the decisions nthat.
We take today we ve seen in countries nlike taiwan and south korea and spreading also ninto more western countries and of course nin. The united states. Where it has begun as well the tracking and monitoring nof. The movements of the whole nof.
The human population through the movements nof our phones. And it is i think something that should nraise cause for concern because when we talk nabout..
The applications and i m sure we will they re saying they re using it nfor contact tracing this person gets sick nwhere. Did they go who may they come nin contact with precisely so they can produce nthese kind of text messages that you describe on its face. It seems like nit might be a good idea. There is of course na natural presumed benefit here and yet this level nof contact tracing this method of contact tracing ndoes.
Not really work on a pandemic scale. You know we re declaring nyou know various states nof emergencies. Here and there. But these have sweeping powers.
What is being built is nthe architecture of oppression. So when we look at south korea. When we look at china. When we look at you know ntaiwan singapore countries like this nnow america there s all of this data.
Nbeing collected how are the government nso when in in south korea. I get a text saying you should you know nsequester yourself for 14 days. How are they getting that data laughs. Nthat s a good question.
I mean. That s really the one that should make everyone njust look at their phone and you know nsort of raise an eyebrow. There are a number of ways that nyou can track the location of someone through their phone. There are these cell phone ntowers themselves.
But there s also nthe wireless network. That you re connected to and then what other wireless nnetworks around you that you re not connected to this you can think of as nwhat wireless networks your phone can hear and so these wireless network. Nidentifiers are then collected and they re mapped out nagainst gps and then they know nif you can see mom s wi fi and neighbor ted s wi fi nand. The library wi fi.
All at the same time. You have to be within range nof these things it becomes a proxy for location now that we know nall of our phones can and are being tracked nat. All times just by being turned on the phone companies have it nat a bare minimum facebook. Probably has it google probably has it napple probably has it and many many other companies nyou.
ve never even heard of that run ad networks. What this really means in a france or a united states is they go we re aware of privacy concerns nso. What we re going to do is we re going to depersonalize nthis information. We re going to anonymize .
It and we re not going to nlook at individuals. We re going to look at the flows nof movement of these phones right we re not looking nat. One phone. We re looking at the aggregate nmovements of phones.
The problem is if you re not ntracking one infection or 100. Infections but you re tracking n100000. Infections contact tracing quickly nbecomes useless and more the precision nof location information is either. So rough that it is largely useless nwhich is the case if we re talking about nthe cellphone networks.
The cellphone towers nyou re near to very very precise nlocation information in which case. This information. When you re applying. It.
Nat scale. Cannot be anonymized nin. A meaningful way and then there s nthis. Big question of well.
Where does all nthat information go. How is it controlled who s it being used nit s information about me. I should have nsome influence over it i should have control over it but unfortunately nin the united states to a large degree you don t there is no basic privacy law nin the united states we need to be able nto make sure that the brakes nthat are being pumped are on the pandemic rather than on our society. You know it seems nthat.
This is maybe the greatest question nof the modern era around civil liberties around the right to privacy yet. No one s asking nthis question. We really don t hear na lot about it and so now this is nprobably the largest societal zeitgeist change to n. Because we have nto stop this thing you know we re declaring nyou know various states of emergencies.
Nhere and there. But these have sweeping powers..
So we re sitting here in america nquarantined and saying. When i think nabout. The future when any of us look. Nat.
Where this is heading. We need to think about nwhere. We ve been and sadly these kind nof emergency powers that are born out of crises have a perfect history nof abuse. I mean down the board.
Whenever you look nat. These things. The funniest part about it nin. A dark way is that the emergency nnever ends.
It becomes normalized when you talk about nmass surveillance. The bush era warrantless nwiretapping program. Only part of it was shut down nand. It s rolled over and it s rolled over nand.
It s rolled over and we ve performed things nat the edges. But the basic practices nof. What was supposed to be a stopgap emergency. Which was in response nto.
Another stopgap emergency. Was which was of course nthe legacy of 9 11. And the patriot act and we are still today nengaged in the same wars that we declared nnearly 20 years ago. That we have not managed nto escape.
You know we had nas a result of 9 11. The rise nof the nuclear iran because their counterbalance nin iraq was ruined. We saw authoritarianism begin to ncreep across western societies places. We wouldn t expect nlike.
Hungary and poland as authoritarianism spreads as emergency laws nproliferate as we sacrifice our rights. We also sacrifice nour capability to arrest this slide into a less nliberal and less free world do you truly believe that when nthe first wave. The second wave. The 16th wave nof.
The coronavirus is a long forgotten memory that these capabilities nwill not be kept that these data sets nwill. Not be kept will those capabilities nbegin to be applied to small time criminality will they begin to be applied nto political analysis. Will they begin to be applied for doing things nlike performing a census will they be used nfor political polling. No matter how it is being used what is being built is nthe architecture of oppression.
And you might trust nwho is dealing with it you might trust nwho runs. It you might go. But someone else will have nthis data eventually some other country nwill have this data eventually in your country. Na.
Different president will have control nof. This data eventually and someone will abuse. It now could china use it for nsomething interesting to them yes. And what happens nwhen they abuse.
It and i believe they already have you know they re they re nrunning internment camps in china and these practices nwhen. They don t get pushback when they don t get ncondemnation when they don t face sanction. This will become normalized nand. It will spread and we ll face them in russia.
We ll face them in iran and then we ll face them nin poland. We ll face them in hungary. We ll face them nthroughout europe. We will face them nin.
The united states because we will face them neverywhere. This is a pivotal moment. It is n. And why is nobody talking about this because we re scared.
We ve talked about this is nlet s say the first wave and until there s na functioning vaccine. There s going to be more waves..
There s going to be nmore pandemics. I mean. This is just the way nit s going to go so if there s going to be more nwaves of covid 19. And in fact more waves of other pandemics ngoing forward.
Then theoretically there nwill be more information. More information collected nmore information shared this is the this is just it s not ngoing to get better. This is just it nthis is a pivotal moment. It is n.
And why is nobody talking about this because we re scared if we work together nif. We think that how we can protect ourselves nour families our communities our hospitals if we think about nhow we can work together internationally nto overcome this as our weeds peak in different nplaces at different times. We cooperate nwe can start to get this space to think not about naddressing. The symptom of our overcrowded nand unequal world.
Which is this virus that has nspread across borders instantly. When you look at nwhat s happened. When we have nthis health crisis and it very quickly morphed ninto. An economic crisis and then very quickly nbecame a financial crisis you see all the governments nof the world leap into action.
And it s interesting that you nsee the majority of this money go not to the public nnot to hospitals. But to businesses loans to the groups nand corporations. That actually created nthe systemic problems that were exacerbated nby this sudden sharp decline. But we need to remember nthat this virus will pass.
But the decisions that we make ntoday in this atmosphere will last. We will have to live with them and our children will have nto live with them all of our posterity will it s not just about america nit s not just about your city. It s about everywhere because these systems nif. We do not change them they re going to make decisions nfor us on an automated basis to determine who gets a job who gets a home nand.
Who does not so we seem to be heading into this uncharted territory. And i wanted to ask you nyou know step back take some time. What should we be nthinking about what should we be nconcentrating on one of the things nthat strikes. Me is this sensation that this is you know na bolt out of the blue.
It couldn t have been prevented nit couldn t have been resisted. It couldn t have been imagined nthat this would come to pass this global pandemic. When you think about nthe average american you know nthey go to work every day they spend ten hours nat. The office in the car away from their family naway from their home and by the end of the day nthey.
ve got no space to think and now all of us collectively. Nat. The same time has been forced into a global nsabbatical all around the world. Which is an extraordinarily nrare event in history.
We are at one of nthe. Only moments that will be in our lifetimes nwhere. The system is so stressed and so overextended nand. The leadership.
So clearly out of its league nthat. We have the ability to make not reformative changes. But revolutionary changes that we can actually change nthe functioning of society. That we can actually change nthe structure of the system.
That controls nand influences our lives. The way that we are nbeing monitored the way that we re being ntracked because these systems nif. We do not change. Them will not simply be used nto monitor our health.
They re going to make decisions. Nfor us on an automated basis to determine who gets a job nwho goes to school who gets a loan. Nwho gets a home and who does not and we today are being asked in a moment nof extraordinary fear and if we don t make nthat decision ourselves. It will be made for us.
Edward snowden nthank. You for your time today thanks so much shane. ” ..
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