“I don’t want to live in a world where there is no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity,” said former NSA employee Edward Snowden in an interview with The Guardian.
It seems revealing the truth has more than one double-edged sword. Snowden, the world’s most hunted whistle-blower, fled the United States because he did not want to live a country where individuals’ data were monitored by the government.
Now in Russia, where he says he will stay a while, as he seeks asylum from some 25 countries, the former NSA leaker’s presence is prompting the Russian government to tighten its internet controls, reports the New York Times.
According to NYT, two members of Russia’s Parliament said that Snowden’s leaks about the NSA’s spying activity provide good grounds to get global tech companies like Google and Microsoft to “comply more closely with Russian rules on personal data storage”.
Though these rules may help protect personal data it will also give Russian law enforcement back door access into services like Gmail.
“We need to quickly put these huge transnational companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook under national controls,” Ruslan Gattarov, a member of the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament, or Federation Council, said in an interview with NYT. “This is the lesson Snowden taught us.”
Snowden’s revelations just over a month ago that the United States government has been secretly tracking individuals through its PRISM programme, allegedly with the help of major tech companies have grabbed headlines around the world.
A few weeks ago, new slides surfaced showing exactly how PRISM works as well as its ability to track real-time communication.
According to NYT, the Russian government has already started looking for ways to bypass help from tech companies like Microsoft:
In Russia, a cottage industry already exists of companies licensed by the F.S.B. to make software applications that replace Microsoft’s built-in encryption on Windows. A Russian law requires this for government employees and several other categories of users. About two million Windows machines have had this change made in Russia, according to CryptoPro, one of the companies that makes the security agency’s licensed encryption key.
Russia has been pressing for more control of online communications for sometime now and Snowden’s leak and presence in the country seems to have revived a long sort motive.