What would Access ask Edward? #SXSnowden

Ahead of RightsCon and SXSW, Access staff put their heads together to come up with our own list of questions for Edward Snowden, who is appearing today March 10th at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. If we had the chance to take the stage, this is what we’d want to know:

  • Do you see a way to meaningfully reform executive authorities to conduct surveillance and gather foreign intelligence?
  • Do you see a way to meaningfully reform surveillance oversight, particularly for those programs conducted under executive authorities such as 12333, which are beyond the remit of Congress?
  • How would you reform the reporting and disclosure processes to ensure future effective whistleblowing on intelligence abuses?
  • Given what you know about intelligence agencies interception and intrusion practices, what data security practices would you recommend companies (telcos and platforms) prioritize to protect their data and users?
  • You’ve said multiple times you’re not against all forms of surveillance, but that you wanted a societal debate: Which types of surveillance do you feel are justified, and when?
  • Was there a particular program or policy that prompted your decision to begin collecting information with the intent of disclosing it to the public at a later date?
  • Out of the programs and issues that have been revealed so far, which would you like to see people talking about more?
  • If you were in a position to implement reforms, which three would institute right away, no questions asked?
  • How much emphasis has the USG put internally on defending networks vs. offensive practices? As someone who worked on these systems, how vulnerable are the US’ systems?
  • There’s been a big discussion around cybersecurity legislation in the United States: are any of the proposed approaches we’ve seen in legislation such as CISPA and its provisions on public-private information sharing, necessary for legitimate defense of essential networks?
  • As you know, this isn’t only the US or the UK: many governments conduct domestic and international surveillance programs. Some of these, including the US and UK, have been coordinated into a group we known as the Five Eyes, that engages in information sharing. What forms of controls, whether technical or policy, would you want to see to reduce the ability of governments to share information across borders, and evade domestic restrictions?
  • Do you think it matters which government agency does information collection (e.g., civilian vs. military)? With interagency intel sharing, is there any meaningful distinction?