Edward Snowden, the American NSA whistleblower, who’s currently living in Russia, joined via a webcam a Q&A for a screening in New York City of the new Oliver Stone-directed film “Snowden,” about Snowden’s life and his decision to leak NSA documents in 2013 exposing the extent of government surveillance on private citizens.
“The common argument we have — if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear — the origins of that are literally Nazi propaganda,” Snowden said. (Note: While the quote is widely attributed to Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, its exact origins appear to be unclear.) “So when we hear modern politicians, modern people repeating that reflexively without confronting its origins, what it really stands for, I think that’s harmful,” he continued.
Snowden also said that the “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” argument “doesn’t make sense.” He believe privacy is in fact the “fountainhead” of rights, from which other freedoms flow.
“Because privacy isn’t about something to hide. Privacy is about something to protect. That’s who you are,” he said. “Privacy is baked into our language, our core concepts of government and self in every way. It’s why we call it ‘private property.’ Without privacy you don’t have anything for yourself.”
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