Moglen describes how Snowden has “nobly advanced our effort to save democracy” by blowing the whistle, and praises his courageous sacrifice, writing: “Snowden saw what happened to other whistleblowers, and behaved accordingly.” Moglen continues, “He knew the price, he knew the reason. But as he said, only the American people could decide, by their response, whether sacrificing his life was worth it.”
Whilst Snowden may be judged by Americans primarily, Moglen argues that his revelations of mass surveillance present global issues: “I think Snowden means that we should make… decisions not in the narrow, national self-interest, but with some heightened moral sense of what is appropriate for a nation that holds itself out as a beacon of liberty to humanity.”
Moglen, who founded the Software Freedom Law Center, feels that the struggle to retain privacy is “far from hopeless. Snowden has described to us what armour still works… Hopelessness is merely the condition they want you to catch, not one you have to have.”
However, he identifies the passive acceptance of mass surveillance, in the form of defeatism or the ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ ideology, as “the most significant forms of opposition that we face”. Moglen counters, “If we are not doing anything wrong, then we have a right to resist.”
Moglen’s essay is adapted from his four-part lecture series at Columbia Law School, entitled Snowden and the Future. You can watch the lecture series here.