NSA whistleblower behind PRISM leaks reveals identity, seeks political asylum abroad

Edward Snowden NSA

A former technical worker for the NSA, CIA, and various defense contractors revealed himself on Sunday as the source of top-secret U.S. government documents, exposed by the Guardian and the Washington Post last week, that confirmed sweeping surveillance of American citizens by the National Security Agency and other federal agencies.

Edward Snowden, 29, was interviewed by the Guardian in Hong Kong, where he fled after leaking the confidential NSA documents that show the extent of the agency’s collation of Americans’ phone and Internet communications. He said he leaked the documents because he does not “want to live in a society that does these sort of things.”

“I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded,” he said. “That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”

Facing the threat of reprisal from the Obama administration, Snowden says he plans to seek asylum “in a country with shared values.” He currently has his eyes set on Iceland, which “stood up for people over internet freedom.”

“I have no idea what my future is going to be,” he said.

Snowden worked for the NSA for four years, as a technical worker for several defense contractors, according to the Guardian. He most recently worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, a military technology consulting firm, which gave him access to secret NSA documents. In a statement, the company confirmed that Snowden had worked for the company for three months, and condemned his actions as a “grave violation.”

“News reports that this individual [Snowden] has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm,” the company said.

The highly confidential documents revealed by Snowden show that the NSA, FBI, and CIA routinely collects all incoming and outgoing call data – numbers called, time of calls, and call duration – of all Verizon customers, regardless of whether those numbers were related to an investigation. A second set of documents made public a program called PRISM, which involved mass surveillance of communications over the networks of nine major U.S. Internet companies – Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, AOL, PalTalk, Skype, and YouTube. Monitored communications reportedly include “audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs,” according to the Post.

Seven of the nine Internet companies have denied cooperating with the NSA, or even having any knowledge of PRISM. The New York Times reports, however, that at least some of the companies did have some knowledge of surveillance, but were often legally forbidden to acknowledge the government’s spying efforts.

In his interview with the Guardian, Snowden says the NSA’s spying capabilities are not only widespread – “We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians.” – but are capable of intercepting “almost everything.”

“If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts,” he said. “I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.”

Snowden says his “primay fear” is what will happen to his friends and family, who he believes face aggressive action from authorities. “My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner,” he said. “Anyone I have a relationship with. … I will have to live with that for the rest of my life.”

When asked what he believes will happen to him, the man who publicly claims responsibility for arguably the most serious government leak in recent history, Snowden has a straight answer: “Nothing good.”


Decades-old Apple IIe computer found in dad’s attic, and it still works

A New York law professor went viral last weekend after he discovered an old Apple IIe computer sitting in his dad's attic. In a series of tweets, he showed that the vintage machine still works perfectly fine after 30 years.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in Destiny 2: Forsaken

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.

After Twitch ban for using homophobic language, musician Deadmau5 apologizes

Electronic musician Deadmau5 has been suspended from Twitch after using homophobic language during a PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds match. The musician later said he wouldn't be returning.

Marriott asking guests for data to see if they were victims of the Starwood hack

Marriott has created an online form to help you find out if your data was stolen in the massive Starwood hack that came to light toward the end of 2018. But take note, it requires you to submit a bunch of personal details.

New Chrome feature aimed at preventing websites from blocking Incognito Mode

A new Chrome feature will prevent websites from blocking Chrome users as they browse using Incognito Mode. The feature is supposed to fix a known loophole that allows websites to detect and block those using Incognito Mode.

Microsoft extension adds Google Chrome support for Windows Timeline

The Windows Timeline feature is now much more versatile thanks to the added support for Google's Chrome browser. All you need to do to increase its functionality is to download the official Chrome extension.

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.

Chrome is a fantastic browser, but is is still the best among new competitors?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Movies & TV

Here’s how to watch the 2019 Oscars livestream online

The 91st Academy Awards will air live on ABC, but there are also a number of ways to watch Hollywood's biggest night online using your mobile device, desktop, or set-top streamer. Here's how to catch the Oscars livestream.

YouTube changes its strikes system, offers softer first-offense penalty

YouTube announced changes to its strikes system for its content creators. The changes include a softer first-offense penalty for creators who violate YouTube's guidelines and more consistent penalties for further violations.

An experimental feature could help reduce memory usage in Google Chrome

Google Chrome might be the most popular web browser, but it also is a resource hog. Google is currently working on an experimental feature for Chrome which sets out to reduce its overall memory usage. 

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. The best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

Though there are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or OS.