Edward Snowden – Surveillance States

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A close-up on Edward Snowden
Photograph: Supplied, FODI Digital Hailed as a hero and condemned as a traitor, who is Edward Snowden?

Time Out says

Who is Edward Snowden? You may think you know, but this thrilling FODI Digital series event asks you to look again

Patriot. Whistleblower. Spy. Traitor. It sounds like the title of a new John le Carré novel, but in truth it’s pretty much the lived reality of Edward Snowden.

The former CIA officer’s name was burned into the history books when, horrified by what he saw as rampant abuse of global surveillance by the US and UK governments, he leaked to the Guardian and the Washington Post.

Some saw him as a hero, exposing mass spying on their own citizens. Many howled him down as an enemy of the state. Now you get to decide for yourself as Snowden joins the Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) co-founder Simon Longstaff in conversation as part of the online-only FODI Digital series on September 24.

Beamed live via satellite from Snowden’s home in Moscow, Edward Snowden – Surveillance States promises to be a fascinating insight into the man, his reason for leaking, and the vast repercussions of an act that erupted like a bomb blast heard around the world.

The sound and fury that enveloped Snowden was swift. Staggeringly, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras was on hand to capture the unfolding saga, including his subsequent flight to Russia to claim political asylum. The resulting documentary, Citizenfour (2014), plays out like the very best political thriller.

Snowden has since put his side of the story down in writing in memoir Permanent Record. Recently speaking to the Guardian once more, he insists that the country of his birth has become its own worst enemy, wreaking, since September 11, “a litany of American destruction by way of American self-destruction, with the promulgation of secret policies, secret laws, secret courts and secret wars… The greatest danger still lies ahead, with the refinement of artificial intelligence capabilities.”

How far is too far for a government to go to protect national security? In so doing, and with the wealth of digital surveillance tactics now available, have the powers that be become the true enemy of the people? It’s a burning debate that’s equally as relevant in Australia as in an America that is more divided than ever in the run-up to a momentous election like none before it.

Snowden is part of FODI Digital alongside David Wallace-Wells – The Uninhabitable Earth and Marcia Langston – Dangerous Fictions. See all three for $30. You can find out more  at festivalofdangerousideas.com or follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Ready to dive into more dangerous ideas? Here's the full FODI Digital line-up.

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