A year since Snowden

Thursday, June 5, 2014

By Laura Tribe

One year ago today, the first documents from Edward Snowden were leaked to the public. Around the world, people and organizations are marking the anniversary of this watershed moment for digital surveillance and government transparency with articles, events and activities.

The volume of information disclosed by Edward Snowden is incredible, and at times it can seem hard to keep up. Al Jazeera America has compiled a timeline of the revelations of the past year, which highlights coverage of the leaks since the first story broke on June 5, 2013.

Snowden’s courageous decision to blow the whistle on practices which he felt threatened the civil liberties of his fellow citizens shed light into highly opaque government agencies operating with little to no oversight and accountability. Although focused on the activities of the Five Eyes (U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and New Zealand), the leaks have kickstarted a global public discourse on the implications of surveillance, and called secretive government practices into question.

A person’s behavior changes when under surveillance. I believe strongly in the right to free expression – and part of that right is allowing people to choose when and how to express themselves. Living in a state of constant surveillance removes that freedom, and it’s time to demand change.

So, what can we do?

There are promises of more documents to come from the Snowden leaks, but we already know enough at this point to know we need reform. We need transparency, accountability, and in Canada specifically, we need more information.

In a statement released yesterday, Snowden said, “don’t ask for your privacy. Take it back.”


  • Protect yourself
    “Reset the Net” has provided a list of easy tools that you can use to protect your online activities and make mass surveillance more difficult.
    • Sign the Protect Our Privacy statement
      "More than ever, Canadians need strong, genuinely transparent, and properly enforced safeguards to secure privacy rights. We call on Government to put in place effective legal measures to protect the privacy of every resident of Canada against intrusion by government entities.”
    • Sign the Stop Spying petition

    Stephanie Schoenhoff has compiled some key stats that help highlight what we know and the importance of standing up to mass surveillance online.

    Having trouble viewing the infographic? Click here.

    Laura Tribe is CJFE’s National Programs Coordinator. You can follow her on Twitter @ltribe. Stephanie Schoenhoff is CJFE’s Research and Communications Assistant.