Edward Snowden is furious. In an interview with the Guardian, he says it “defied belief” that the UK government has rushed through an Internet surveillance bill which regulates how UK-based Internet companies must retain data, and how it must be made available to security services.
Snowden said it was very unusual for a public body to pass an emergency law such as this in circumstances other than a time of total war. “I mean we don’t have bombs falling. We don’t have U-boats in the harbour.”
Snowden is absolutely right, of course, both in his criticism of governments passing hasty anti-Internet legislation and in pointing out that it isn’t just the US government that gets up to these kinds of hijinks.
Back on July 4th — the fourth of July! — we reported on a new Russian law, passed with almost no oversight or debate, which imposed new restrictions how Internet companies must store data inside the country. Critics inside and outside of Russia claim the bill law will make it even easier for Putin’s government to control and monitor domestic Internet traffic.
Coming after new rules requiring blogs attracting more than 3,000 daily visits to register with a communications watchdog and a regulation allowing websites to be shut without a court order, critics say the law is part of a wave of censorship.
Ironically, Russia has cited Edward Snowden’s revelations of US cyber-spying as the reason why Putin’s government has to take steps to “protect” Russian Internet traffic while making it far easier for Russian security services to monitor foreign and domestic traffic.
All of which raises a fascinating, and completely baffling question: Why is Snowden — who is currently waiting to hear if the Russian government will continue to allow him to stay in the country under FSB protection — so furious about UK government overreach but utterly silent on the same thing happening in his adopted home?