It began when he was working in NSA as an analyst. He and his colleagues had some ethical doubts. He mentioned there were 18-22 year old analysts in a critical positions having daily access on all private records. These data were used for blackmailing others. He observed that this behavior happens periodically every two months, but was never reported. Snowden’s decision to leak NSA documents developed gradually from 2007 (6). He started to create a wide backup system for the NSA, and started to point out security flaws to agency. As he was given full administrator privileges with unlimited access to NSA data. In addition to his privileges, he convinced his co-workers to give him their login credentials. By this way, he gained greater access to the NSA’s computer system. Snowden as a system administrator having the ability to access all files. He accessed the server of NSA directly. For making it difficult for tracing his signature in the files he accessed, he used ‘thin client’ computer. By this time the government started misgiving about his qualifications to distract about his issue.
He resumed working for Booz Allen for about three months in order to keep copying the required documents. Then he left Hawaii in May 2013 for Hong Kong. He contacted with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras to publish the documents. They started publishing about how NSA collects phone records of millions of verizon customers daily. Also revealed how US and UK spy agencies defeat internet privacy and security (1). Snowden’s disclosures caused an embarrassment to the United States government. According to his reveals that the United States had spied on some countries like Brazil, France, Mexico, Britain, China, Germany, and Spain, as well as 35 world leaders (5). The German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that “Spying among friends was not acceptable” at October 2013.
Snowden added to Chinese journal that he would stay as long as the Chinese government permit. In July 2013, Snowden asked for temporary asylum in Russia, while he was in Hong Kong. Snowden declared the way he used to protect himself from any Russian action by giving all the documents he obtained to American journalists he met in Hong Kong without keeping any copy for himself before landing in Moscow (6). Till now, he is staying in Russia due to the impossible trials to travel safely to Latin America. Meanwhile he never intended to end up in Russia.
When Snowden elaborated about his concerns in January 2014. About the legality of the NSA spying programs to officials. NSA Threatened Snowden to stay silent or they will release a copy of his emails he sent to their Office of General Counsel. As there were several actions against the extradition of Edward Snowden from the United States. On June 14, 2013, The United States government has charged him with theft and violations of the Espionage Action accusing him by unauthorized communication to the national defense and the willful communications of intelligence data with unauthorized person. All of these cases can charge to be imprisoned for at least more than thirty years (2). Also, There is the possibility that government add another charges later. The officials have arrested and issued extradition warrants to many countries, and they forced and threatened political leaders personally to cut their trade benefits because of their failure to keep tracking Snowden’s extradition. Moreover, the people who are suspected of helping Snowden including Sarah Harrison who is a journalist in WikiLeaks joined Snowden while his journey from Hong Kong to Moscow, and David Miranda who has been detained for a complete nine hours on a charge of terrorism act in UK, they all have been put at risk or harassed(7). In 2017, Moscow extended Snowden’s right to asylum until 2020 (3).
Snowden has broken a privacy agreement, which is not a loyalty oath but a contract, which is less important than the social contract a democracy has done with its citizens. Snowden did what he did because he recognized the NSA’s programs are dangerous and unconstitutional activity. This violations of Americans’ and foreign citizens’ privacy does not contribute to our security; it puts in danger the freedom we’re trying to protect. Motive was to inform the public what is done against them. He believed that the public has the right to know about these programs , he didn’t want to live in a world where everything he do or say is recorded. That is not something he was willing to support or live under.
Moreover, America’s actions can be considered illegal for the reason that the constitution does not support the actions of Spying on civilians that are not suspects. Snowden has broken a privacy agreement, which is certainly illegal. However, our viewpoint is that what he has done was ethical. Ethically accepted to refuse being part of the spying cycle toward guiltless citizens. Ethically accepted to decide informing those people about their data privacy state.
There is a blurry line between what is legal and what is ethical, we have to differentiate between both to reach reasonable conclusion. The act that is considered as behavior act of individual based on individual’s understanding of right or wrong is called ethical act, it applies only on individual bases, while legal part is based on law, laws are created based on ethics issues to protect individual rights and freedoms. However, there are some occasions where legal act can be unethical and ethical act consider to be illegal as well . both legal and ethical are considered as methods to manage a certain type of behaviour and actions. However, there are difference in applying both sides of acts, a legal act is applied to all people in the society despite their morals and their perceptions, it is the act that apply a terms of rules and regulations to the whole country.ethics act has more personal view while Legal act has more objective view .
In our opinion snowden point of view might not be legal but it was ethical , he is a hero for having the courage to do what is ethically right despite knowing that this will end his career and will force him to live the rest of his life as a criminal for breaking the law, he acted according to his morals, he believed that people has the right to know what happens behind their back , he believed that people must know that Us Government may anytime penetrate their own privacy to access information whether those information about them or about someone else.
- Snowden action, illegal but ethical
- America’s action, legal but unethical(maybe)
- Being legal doesn’t mean being ethical
- Our opinion
Legal Accusations of Snowden Case
Snowden was charged with violating ‘unauthorized communication of national defense information’ and ‘willful communication of classified intelligence with an unauthorized person’, which falls under the 1917 Espionage Act. Also, the theft of government property. The Espionage Act of 1917 is a federal law in the United States which was released after the World War I and it was improved many times over the years. It is the act of getting confidential information (not publicly available) without the permission of the holder of the information using human resources or hacking into systems.
That’s mean that there is no public interest or whistleblower exception for Snowden under this Act.
Public interest law: it is a legal action that was made for poor people or the marginalized people like in our case to make changes in policies that the public would have interest in like the US. Surveillance on its people.
Whistleblower Protection Act: it is an amendment was made in 1989 to the US. Federal Law that protect people who reveal/reports any kind of activity or information that is considered illegal, unethical, not correct, any violations to law, rules, or regulations within an organization conditioned to be working for the government.
If Snowden could be trialed to the court but by enabling(taking into consideration) these Acts this would improve his legal state/situation in this case. A criminal complaint was filled by federal prosecutors against Snowden which was sealed at first in the Eastern district of Virginia. However, the Justice Department was barraged with calls from lawmakers and reporters and decided to unseal the criminal complaint.