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Security vs Personal Integrity?

It is the third year in a row my English 7 students write an assignment on the issue of "security vs personal identity". Whistleblower Edward Snowden, of course, has been at the center of our talks about what constitutes a modern society in which we pursue a balance between wishing to feel secure as well as being able to maintain some sense of secludedness.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, barely anyone in the class was initially familiar with Snowden´s name. Asked in the street, Americans (even!) frequently confuse him with Wikileak´s Julian Asange, whereas some wonder if he is some sort of comedy star? And no wonder, because that is what news tends to do to us: we forget what happened last week. Consider, then, that some years have passed now since Snowden first became a househould name.

The issue is highly relevant, though. Pertinently, some have pointed out that the extent to which we willfully hand out personal information in cyber space would have been a dream for every Stasi-like apparatus some thirtyish years ago. Surveilling people becomes so much easier when they commit themselves wholeheartedly to informing us on a daily basis what they do (even in secret), where they go, what they like (and dread). Smart phones are smart, indeed, when contemplating the issue from that particular point of view.

Now it may appear that nothing has really changed since Snowden - in collaboration with the Guardian - first revealed the extent of the NSA:s mass surveillance program. In an interview with German Der Spiegel from 2017, however, Snowden is quite confident that things may improve. And he still believes in America, which is allegedly somewhat surprising given that he would most likely be confined to some dark places were he to go there now.

The interview below is a short extract from a much longer interview with Edward Snowden on the Last Week Tonight show with John Oliver. In his characteristic fashion Oliver finds a way to circumvent all the technicalities of it all while instead focusing on the human factor. Here they discuss how a credible password should look like - and how it shouldn´t look like.