So is Edward Snowden a hero or a creepy betrayer? The fact that he is huddled in a Moscow airport waiting for some country to take him in lends credence to the betrayer view. Since September 11, 2001, a lot of queasy liberals have cut the U.S. government a fair amount of slack when it comes to surveillance of potential terrorist plots. The attacks happened, after all. And more plots followed. Al-Qaeda is no paranoid fantasy. We can't have people with top-secret information making national policy, as free-lances. But as one detail after another has emerged in the wake of Snowden's initial disclosures, the weight of evidence keeps shifting to the hero side of the scale. Put aside for the moment Snowden's motives, or character defects, or awkward international flight from Hong Kong to Russia. History is likely to record him as something of a hero for the long overdue national debate that he has forced. Since Snowden, a largely intimidated press has begun doing its job, and the revelations are not pretty.
Growing public concern about the privacy of electronic information leaves many Internet users questioning how and why the government retrieves Internet data unbeknownst to users. 1The questions and answers below clarify current U.S. intelligence surveillance law and its impact on companies and private citizens.