Edward Snowden warned an Iowa City audience Monday of the dangers of the public becoming more accountable to the government at a time when the government is becoming less accountable to the public.
“The real danger here is that mass surveillance doesn’t actually keep us safe, it puts us at greater risk of harm, ” Snowden told an audience at the Englert Theatre via video link Monday. “Because when you do what NSA does — their internal classified slogan is ‘collect it all’ — when you collect everything, you understand nothing.”
Snowden, the former intelligence worker who made headlines worldwide when he leaked classified information about the National Security Agency’s surveillance of U.S. citizens in 2013, has been living in Russia under asylum since fleeing the U.S. He received a standing ovation by many in the audience at the packed theater during an event hosted by the University of Iowa’s Lecture Committee.
Snowden was a last-minute addition — his appearance was announced Friday — to the event, which featured talks by former CIA analyst Ray McGovern and FBI whistle-blower Coleen Rowley. The former NSA systems analyst spoke at length about the dangers of a government using electronic data to monitor its citizens unchecked.
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