Laws Vs. People Vs. Court

People have all kinds of views about Edward Snowden. Some say he’s a criminal. Others say he’s a hero. Most of us fall somewhere in between. But, whatever view you might take of him and his actions, the fact is, he is a progenitor of change.

Snowden’s revelations, and the press they’ve received, have forced everyone in the world to ask questions of what privacy means and how much we value it. If you don’t value it, or if you value it less than your national pride, Snowden’s a terrorist. If you do value privacy, usually because you believe it’s ebbing is a sign of impending tyranny, then you think Snowden’s a hero.

If you’re not sure of the value of privacy, and you don’t think Hitler’s replacement is behind every corner, Snowden becomes a fascinating coffee shop discussion. (Yes, I know I just violated Godwin’s Law.)

And then there’s the European Union. In 2006, the EU brought the Data Retention Act into law. It requires member states to keep all publicly available (they use this term loosely) data for at least six months and as much as 2 years. Basically, it’s like a time machine that can travel back as much as 2 years to read your email.

As mentioned above, the Data Retention Act passed in 2006.

However, according to the BBC, an EU court overturned the DRA, claiming it violates two of the basic rights of its citizens. What rights, you ask? The right to a private life, and the right to have private data.

Yep, privacy. It seems the EU courts might be on Snowden’s side.

I wrote the screenplay for ALGORITHM before Edward Snowden became news. Most of his revelations aren’t even news in the infosec community. ALGORITHM would have existed with or without Snowden.

But, would the EU courts have been on Snowden’s side without Snowden? Would they have acted to overturn the DRA if Snowden hadn’t revealed that, while they’re collecting that data for EU member states, some of those states gave the U.S. access to the data. And, the U.S. has no 2-year-upper limit to data storage?

If their previous actions are any hint, no. They would not. Let’s not forget, they did enact the DRA to begin with, a full 7 years prior to Snowden’s news.