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Open & Shut

Edward Snowden makes an appearance by webcam at the digital security conference. Edward Snowden made an appearance by webcam at…

Edward Snowden makes an appearance by webcam at the digital security conference.

Edward Snowden made an appearance by webcam at the “News Organizations and Digital Security” conference to talk about his experiences and what needs to happen with digital security. The talk came soon after FBI Director James Comey had said that the government wants even greater access to all communications data.

Comey, Oct. 16 speech:

“There is a misconception that building a lawful intercept solution into a system requires a so-called ‘back door,’ one that foreign adversaries and hackers may try to exploit. But that isn’t true. We aren’t seeking a back-door approach. We want to use the front door, with clarity and transparency, and with clear guidance provided by law.”


“We begin to enforce the Fourth Amendment not through letters on a page, but through the design of our systems.”

“There actually is no real difference between a ‘frontdoor’ and a ‘backdoor’. That’s rhetoric. . . . By creating . . . backdoors in our products and services what we’re doing is we’re making the Internet less secure on a fundamental level.”

“When FBI Director Comey asks for a ‘front door,’ we should remind him he already has it. It’s called a warrant.”

“We need journalists and institutions to look around and ask themselves: do they want to be condemned to having to fight with organizations in the intelligence community in the United States . . . just to report the news? Do we really have to fight our government to hold it to account?”

“If we don’t demand answers from the government, we’re not really going to get the best quality decisions and we’re not really going to have the best quality government.”

“The only people who know what’s going on in our government right now are our enemies. And I don’t think that’s sustainable.”

“It’s not entirely about surveillance. Surveillance is the mechanism of understanding. But what we really saw was the beginning of discussion about how much the balance of power is shifting between the traditional institutions of our society — institutions such as the press, the civil society more broadly, the public — how we interact with our government.”


“These restrictions constitute an unconstitutional prior restraint and content-based restriction on, and government viewpoint discrimination against, Twitter’s right to speak about information of national and global public concern.” — in a complaint filed by Twitter in October against the U.S. government over compelled data collection.