Legislation ending the US government’s bulk collection of telephone data is “a historic victory for the rights of every citizen,” former intelligence analystEdward Snowden said in a commentary on Thursday.
In the opinion piece, published in several newspapers internationally including The New York Times, Snowden reflected on what he said was a profound shift in the public’s awareness of mass surveillancesince his infamous leaks disclosing the extent to which the US government and some partners monitor electronic communications.
“Ending the mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen, but it is only the latest product of a change in global awareness,” he said, referring to this week’s ending of the bulk data collection program under the USA Patriot Act.
“Since 2013, institutions across Europe have ruled similar laws and operations illegal and imposed new restrictions on future activities. The United Nations declared mass surveillance an unambiguous violation of human rights,” he added.
The 31-year-old Snowden remains wanted by the United States for espionage following his bombshell leaks that got him branded a traitor in some political quarters and a hero in others.
The fugitive former National Security Agency worker has been granted temporary residency in Russia.
Describing his trajectory over the last two years since he made his disclosures to three journalists in a Hong Kong hotel room, Snowden said he was initially concerned no one would even care.
“Never have I been so grateful to have been so wrong,” he wrote.