Six years after making world headlines for his shocking revelations regarding National Surveillance Agency's (NSA) mass hacking activities, American whistleblower Edward Snowden has again hit the bull's eye this time for criticizing social media and internet giants Facebook, Amazon and Google for engaging and propagating business models based on 'abuse'.
Speaking at a Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, via video link from Russia from where he's been under political asylum since 2013, Snowden lashed out at Google, Facebook and Amazon for leaking out private data of the individuals and making it available to governments. He called this 'Faustian bargain' or the 'deal with the devil'.
"I think as much as we see anger rising, and as much we see the awareness of problems beginning to develop, people are quite frequently mad at the right people for the wrong reasons, as they see this increasing predation on all of us publicly, whether we are talking about government or corporate entities." He added, "These people (Facebook, Google and Amazon) are engaged in abuse. Their business model is abuse. And yet every bit of it, what they argue is legal."
Snowden first hit the headlines in 2013 when he leaked highly classified information from the NSA when he was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and sub-contractor. His revelations led to the disclosure of many global surveillance programs, some run by the NSA and others by the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance. The Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance is an Anglophone Intelligence Alliance comprising Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand.
Snowden's disclosures sparked off a national debate about the extent of government intelligence agencies' spying. He also revealed that the NSA was paying US tech companies for clandestine attacks to their communications. His disclosures also brought into light that NSA was harvesting millions of e-mail and instant messaging contact lists and tracking and mapping the location of cell phones. Not only that, the NSA was also reported to be secretly accessing Yahoo and Google data centres for collecting data from millions of internet users.
Last week, in an interview, Snowden revealed that the big technology companies- Google and Facebook-are equal threats to the modern world as the NSA and other intelligence agencies. Snowden's explosive statements come at a time when the tech giants are repeatedly under scanner for violating data privacy laws. The voice assistant devices of Google and Amazon-Google Home and Alexa- are repeatedly accused of spying. Facebook, along with its subsidiaries, WhatsApp and Instagram, are in the news for all negative things ranging from data breaching, cyber attacks and for promoting posts, images and chats related to self-harm and suicide.