Edward Snowden: Without change, future surveillance will be in the hands of countries, companies and criminals

Edward Snowden has warned that unless we challenge the current global surveillance status quo, our future will be a world of mass surveillance where not only every country will have access to all our digital communications, but companies and criminals too.

Speaking today to attendees of the UK-based FutureFest via a stream from Moscow, the NSA whistleblower expressed for a strong need for a change in governmental surveillance if we are to avoid a scenario where total surveillance is the norm.

“If we go along with the status quo, we are going towards a mass surveillance world,” Snowden warned, adding that surveillance would be the norm for every country, no matter how small, as well as “companies and also criminals”.


In the discussion, which saw Snowden asked questions by fashion designer and activist Dame Vivienne Westwood, academic Luciano Floridi and Glasgow students union president Breffni O’Connor, he proposed that the solution was a change in the structure of communications.

This would ensure better encryption and make the mass collection of data considerably harder.

“We can restructure that communications fabric in a way that is encrypted, and what we are doing there is making it much more difficult to perform mass surveillance,” he said. “I think that’s the most realistic thing to do.”

As part of this, he also called for greater individual control over the data we send online, advocating the ability to set clear controls in advance of sharing data about who will be able to read it.

“We decentralise the permissions of use of our communications, we decentralise the ability to decide the level of publicity attached to our communications,” he recommended.


Snowden also called for a clear and open debate on the subject of mass surveillance, decrying the terrorism-prevention argument for surveillance as being without proof.

Discussing the NSA’s surveillance practices, he said: “Despite interception of the calls of everyone in the country, it has never stopped a single terrorist attack.

“These programs are not public safety programs, they’re spying programs.”

He conceded that such mass collection of data did provide an advantage for spying operations, but said this needed to be weighed up against the invasion of people’s privacy.

“We have to have that debate honestly, we cannot simply scare people into giving up their rights,” he added.


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Apple’s co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak has found himself a new gig; Woz has joined the hologram emoji company, Mojiit, as an adviser.

In his role as advisor to Mojiit, the legendary entrepreneur and engineer will help assemble a world-class engineering team in addition to bringing investors and partnerships to the newly launched startup. Wozniak will also serve as mentor to Mojiit founder, Jeremy Greene.

“I’m thrilled to join Mojiit as an advisor,” said Wozniak. “Jeremy is a natural leader, the company is groundbreaking, it’s going to change the ecommerce space, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Created in 2017, Mojiit is the latest startup technology venture from Greene. The company’s tech essentially enables users to project and share 3D hologram emojis via smartphones.

The platform turns users into emojis by scanning their face, which can then be sent to loved ones and friends. Once a Mojiit message is received, it will map the area where it is received and place the Mojiit hologram there in real time, so it works in a similar way to Pokemon Go.

“Steve is one of the best and brilliant engineers in the entire world. But outside of that, he’s a wonderful man,” said Greene. “There isn’t anyone I’d want to be in business with more than this guy. He’s a legend. Who better to learn from than the guy who created the computer?”

Image courtesy of Nichollas Harrison. Featured image courtesy of Mojiit

In addition to consumer use, businesses of all kinds can tap into hologram emojis with Mojiit’s technology.

Mojiit investors already  include NFL alum Ed Reed, and the company was able to raise a total of $1 million in its seed round of funding.

Alongside the appointment of Woz, Entourage and Ballers producer Rob Weiss recently joined the company as a creative director.

“It’s exciting to expand beyond television and film to digital platforms,” said Weiss. “Hologram technology brings incredible opportunity to entertainment and media. I’m thrilled to be leading creative at Mojiit.”