Edward Snowden: Apple is a privacy pioneer

“Two years ago today, three journalists and I worked nervously in a Hong Kong hotel room, waiting to see how the world would react to the revelation that the National Security Agency had been making records of nearly every phone call in the United States,” Edward Snowden writes in an op-ed for The New York Times. “In the days that followed, those journalists and others published documents revealing that democratic governments had been monitoring the private activities of ordinary citizens who had done nothing wrong.”

“Two years on, the difference is profound. In a single month, the N.S.A.’s invasive call-tracking program was declared unlawful by the courts and disowned by Congress. After a White House-appointed oversight board investigation found that this program had not stopped a single terrorist attack, even the president who once defended its propriety and criticized its disclosure has now ordered it terminated,” Snowden writes. “This is the power of an informed public.”

“Beyond the frontiers of law, progress has come even more quickly. Technologists have worked tirelessly to re-engineer the security of the devices that surround us, along with the language of the Internet itself. Secret flaws in critical infrastructure that had been exploited by governments to facilitate mass surveillance have been detected and corrected,” Snowden writes. “Basic technical safeguards such as encryption — once considered esoteric and unnecessary — are now enabled by default in the products of pioneering companies like Apple, ensuring that even if your phone is stolen, your private life remains private. Such structural technological changes can ensure access to basic privacies beyond borders, insulating ordinary citizens from the arbitrary passage of anti-privacy laws, such as those now descending upon Russia.”

“Though we have come a long way, the right to privacy — the foundation of the freedoms enshrined in the United States Bill of Rights — remains under threat. Some of the world’s most popular online services have been enlisted as partners in the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs, and technology companies are being pressured by governments around the world to work against their customers rather than for them,” Snowden writes. “Yet the balance of power is beginning to shift.”

Read more in the full article – very highly recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hero.

Now what would those “popular online services” be? Hmm…
*cough, Google, Facebook, cough!*

Here’s an idea: The U.S. federal government should adhere to the U.S. Constitution.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.United States Constitution, Amendment IV

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. – Ronald Reagan, March 30, 1961

Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! – Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

Visit the Apple-backed reformgovernmentsurveillance.com today.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz,” “Brawndo Drinker,” and “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


U.S. Senate blocks measures to extend so-called Patriot Act; NSA’s bulk collection of phone records in jeopardy – May 23, 2015
Rand Paul commandeers U.S. Senate to protest so-called Patriot Act, government intrusion on Americans’ privacy – May 20, 2015
Apple, others urge Obama to reject any proposal for smartphone backdoors – May 19, 2015
U.S. appeals court rules NSA bulk collection of phone data illegal – May 7, 2015
In open letter to Obama, Apple, Google, others urge Patriot Act not be renewed – March 26, 2015
Apple’s iOS encryption has ‘petrified’ the U.S. administration, governments around the world – March 19, 2015
Obama criticizes China’s demands for U.S. tech firms to hand over encryption keys, install backdoors – March 3, 2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook advocates privacy, says terrorists should be ‘eliminated’ – February 27, 2015
Apple’s Tim Cook warns of ‘dire consequences’ of sacrificing privacy for security – February 13, 2015
DOJ warns Apple: iPhone encryption will lead to a child dying – November 19, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook ups privacy to new level, takes direct swipe at Google – September 18, 2014
A message from Tim Cook about Apple’s commitment to your privacy – September 18, 2014
Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for police, even with search warrants – September 18, 2014
Apple, Google, others call for government surveillance reform – December 9, 2013


  1. While slimy governments will always be trying to screw their constituents to maintain and increase their power, the people who work for government are usually not the sharpest tools in the shed. Thus, their schemes can often be dealt with by the smarter people outside government. That is what we are seeing now as Apple beefs up the ability of their devices to maintain the user’s privacy.

    And one more thing, Snowden is definitely a hero.

  2. MDN’s take here is deeply problematic, I fear. Antonin Scalia feels the timeless wisdom of the 1780s should govern modern America, but I fear the issues we face can’t adequately be answered by 1780’s-era Enlightenment theory. Privacy is critical, but we should think about it in contemporary terms, I believe.

    1. Funny thing is, those people didn’t feel their ‘wisdom’ was timeless so they included a mechanism to ‘modernize’ it — its called an amendment.

      Not a huge fan of the concept of ‘social contract’, but to the extent there is one, it is the Constitution. A state that violates its contract with ‘the people’ cannot claim to be a government of and by the people.

      Government servants (elected or hired) who violate the constitution should be banned from public service for life and forfeit all accrued government benefits. Those who have sworn an oath to protect the constitution from all enemies foreign or domestic should be tried for treason.

    2. While some issues we face today didn’t exist centuries ago, the *principles* DO NOT CHANGE. For example:

      – the right …against unreasonable searches and seizures
      – Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety
      – Freedom …must be fought for, protected, and handed on

      You know – kind of like “all men are created equal?”

      Of course, the technology changes (is that what you mean by “think about it in contemporary terms”?) but the principles that are the foundation of our country DO NOT CHANGE.

  3. I’ve heard a lot of government officials and pundits comment on Snowden’s arrogance at assuming that night he knew what the problem was and had the great insight on how it should be solved. What they all seem to miss is the root cause, which was their lying to the American people, for whom they work and by whom they are being paid. We have a right to know and consent to what they want to do to protect us, if it involves compromising our privacy.

  4. All the while, we are still not protected from foreign clandestine operations. Our personal privacy is under attack by governments, corporations, apps, and other entities.

    Why? Why? I really have no idea. I suspect, its not us they are after, but it’s our potential they are after. Do we have money? Are we trustworthy? Do we have secrets? If you have none of these, a prole, then go a head and rest assured you are invisible.

    Thanks Apple for trying to help.

    1. > I suspect, its not us they are after, but it’s our potential they are after.

      They are after all of us, because of our potential. “They” being those who are utterly terrified of what the populace might do someday that would curtail their power. “They” are completely paranoid and want to gather as much information as exists about us, so they can combat us “when the day comes”.

      They have always dreamed of doing this, but were (somewhat) restrained until 9/11. In the confusion that reigned in the aftermath they immediately saw their chance and seized it, under the pretext of keeping us safe from “terrorists”. In truth this never was (and still isn’t) about terrorists, but about wielding power over us. And of course using that information for filling coffers is also very important. Money and power are to them like matter and energy in E=MC^2.

    1. You have it backwards.

      Aaron Ruso, the producer of Trading Places (A fantastic Movie by the way, one of my favourite) lays it all bare in this interview. Listen carefully and you might begin to understand why we need encryption and privacy.

      Listen between ).58 to 1:59, this is about the KILL SWITCH. The KILL SWITCH was what the government so badly wanted Apple to put in the iPhones ….was so they can easily cut you off from any means to support yourself. Total control! As Ruso puts it.

      However, Apple totally outplayed the government on this issue. They gave them the KILL SWITCH that they so badly wanted, BUT with one glitch that I am sure the government didn’t expect. Apple made the control of this Kill switch totally under the control of the user NOT the government. Today you can revive “your’ dead device by entering in your Apple ID. Whereas the government wanted the ability to Kill a device by issuing a command.

      Apple is using encryption to keep us free. Once you listen to Ruso, you begin to understand.

      Listen to 5:10 to 5:20.

  5. I think the question is, what becomes of Edward Snowden after this? The government has deemed it illegal to do the activities that Snowden uncovered. Does he receive a pardon or is he still an outlaw that if found in the US serves time or life in prison? I think if pardoned then it allows more whistleblowers to do what they feel is right and tell on the people they are working for. I would hate for people to feel to scared to reveal something they think is wrong. So, hopefully the government will take back their sentence to some degree for Snowden.

  6. Snowden come back to the US. Yes, it’s going to take a great bit of courage to do so. You need to face justice. But that run to different countries, no you can’t be any kind of hero doing that. I think you are a traitor, but I would not sit in judgement of you in court because I have already made up my mind. But on the other hand, if you are a double double double double agent, then good luck in Russia.
    But until that is unveiled or something like that, dude, in my eyes and maybe only my eyes you must face justice. You ran though, dude, you really ran… Courage would have been to go before Congress, or tell a newspaper, still wrong (exposing national secrets to the newspaper) but I believe I could better understand, not agree, but understand and consider the weight of Constitution against the law, but what you did, no, no, yeah, my mind is made up, traitor is how I would describe you. America is only nation I know where even after the highest court in the land rules, the people still have the final say.

    1. Given what he know, and how the game was being played against whistleblowers… Edward Snowden did exactly the smart thing, and continues doing the smart thing, knowing there can be no true justice given the current legal system and political climate (notice I said “legal” system, not “justice” system).

      You are hopelessly naive.

    2. Bob. If you watch citizenfour you will find his reasoning for going the way he did. The very nature on which he was exposing would have shut him down before getting to the first interview. It’s also against the government, the very thing he is exposing, so that plays differently for a whistleblower. Against a company, sure you could probably go to the government, but against the government you will want to take some precautions.

  7. Edward Snowden is this generation’s Jesus. Going head to head with the power structures, being crucified by them and why? For bringing the truth of their hypocrisy to light and calling everyone to something better. Guess what. Crucify him and he’ll rise again inside three days. Truth can’t die.

  8. Thank you MDN for putting this article up on your site. The idea that “The U.S. federal government should adhere to the U.S. Constitution.” is a valid one but it is now apparent that they don’t, and what Snowden has revealed about what the NSA arm of the government does is just part of a larger corrupt government system that engages in other activities such as torture, invasions of other countries and crimes against humanity. The latter idea is my opinion, and I know that I am not alone in this. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

    Snowden states that “After a White House-appointed oversight board investigation found that this program had not stopped a single terrorist attack” but that’s putting it politely, others would find that this program is a terrorist attack threatening global security, and by extension the national security of the United States. Again it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that more and more the United States is acting like a terrorist nation. At the last memorial day services the president of that country pointed out that it’s been 14 years since the US was at war. Historically speaking the number of peaceful years for the US is about 20%, that’s pretty repugnant and frankly when the number of wars years of a country rides at 80% it’s pretty indicative of what some would call a war mongering nation and that to many from the free and civilized world is considered repugnant.

    Even more repugnant is that “the N.S.A.’s invasive call-tracking program was declared unlawful by the courts and disowned by Congress.” will probably be met with the same washing of the hands as was torture. Seeing the president of the United States admit to “yeah we tortured some folks” then not pursuing justice but rather dismissing it with a “we must look forward comment” is a precedent that will be most likely be applied here. The take home message, “Americans can do what they please, they are above the law.” It’s my tell tale sign of a bully, one who can dish it out but can’t take it. I’d love to see some accountability for these unlawful acts but I’m not holding my breath. I simply don’t think that the country has the intestinal fortitude to own up and bring justice forth. This is part of their demise.

    This does the United States absolutely no good on the global scale. Ever since the second 9-11 the US has been snatching defeat from the jaws of victory going down a path that is immoral and unethical by any modern day standards and it shows no signs of wanting to maintain any decorum of civility.

    It should come as no surprise that people from the civilized and free world point out the corruption and hatred that stems from this country and some come up with the most insulting of names that are unfortunately warranted. Shooting or censoring a messenger won’t stop it, and unless the tide turns there will be a reckoning and we all know how karma can be.

    A single man with a voice, Snowden managed to put a dent in the huge megasuperego of the United States. A single group under the leadership of Bin Ladin brought down the house of civilized cards that was the pride and joy of the United States. Some might say that’s a bigger accomplishment than Steve Jobs putting a dent in the universe.

    It’s a big step back towards the light that the United States has done to curtail the activities of the NSA. Let’s hope that this country is capable of more steps to regain the place it once held as a respected country, before there are more intensive lessons in karma.

    1. Ever since the 2nd 9-11, the US has been going down an immoral path, you said.

      Here’s why I think they chose that path. (1) plain revenge. (2) some of those in power saw an opportunity to capitalize on the emotional climate to benefit themselves politically and financially.

      1. Hey fraka, thanks for the post. I like the ideas you put forth and I have my own slant, that of kids at the school yard.

        Bully Bin Laden punches G.W. Bush and takes off before G.W. Bush can retaliate. This brings out the bully in G.W. Bush and unable to get Bin Laden at the time he decides to go for the soft target, Saddam Hussein, as he is someone who not mobile. Hence shortly after the second 9-11 low and behold we get all this brouhaha about Iraq being involved in the second 9-11, how Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and in doing so basically gives the finger to the democratic principles and tenets of the United Nations because he wanted a war to get back at someone. I remember painfully watching Bush and Colin Powell essentially lie to the world about this crap but they apparently fell for it, and the resulting quagmire has dragged them into a war that still echoes on today.

        Reading the feedback from others the word “traitor” comes up about Snowden along with “hero” but on the other side of the coin, back to MDN’s take: “The U.S. federal government should adhere to the U.S. Constitution.” the thing is that they didn’t, and they are not taking any consequences as of yet for their deviation. It makes me wonder if the government of the United States is not a traitor to the fine principles of their constitution. If so, what should be done about it, by the people of the US.

        Yes, revenge and the corruptive power over the people. I’d sure like to see the people of the US do something about it.

        Thanks again for your sentiments, they make a lot of sense.

  9. Snowden is a hero and has risked everything he cares about to inform the public. Without his revelations, all was just speculation. If the government is going to breach our basic rights, it should do so with full disclosure, so that it can be opposed and supported out in the open.

  10. The Federal Government has become a disobedient animal. Until the people a leash on their animal, nothing is going to change.

    In recent testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch had this to say in part:

    “Truth fears no inquiry. Crafty, corrupt politicians realize that transparency and accountability go hand-in-hand. If the Obama administration truly had nothing to hide, it would not go to such extraordinary lengths to keep information from the public.”

    JW is one of the few organizations I’ve supported over the last 25 years. Their motto: “Because no one is above the law” resonates with people on both sides of the isle who are fed up with the politics, lies, and corruption.

    No direct affilliation. Just a strong supporter of the people.


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