In a few months, we’ll be marking the second anniversary of the first Snowden leak. The outraged responses of citizens and politicians around the world to these revelations has resulted in approximately nothing in those 24 months. There have been bright spots here and there — where governments and their intelligence agencies were painted into corners by multiple leaks and forced to respond — but overall, the supposed debate on the balance between security and privacy has been largely ignored by those on Team National Security.
Here in the US, multiple surveillance reforms were promised. So far, very little has been put into practice. The NSA may be forced to seek court approval for searches of its bulk phone metadata, but otherwise the program rolls on unimpaired and slightly rebranded (from Section 215 to Section 501).
Senator Ron Wyden — one of the few members of our nation’s intelligence oversight committees actively performing any oversight — isn’t happy with the lack of progress. In an interview with Buzzfeed’s John Stanton, Wyden points out that not only has there been little movement forward in terms of surveillance reform, there actually may have been a few steps backward.
Wyden bluntly warned that even after the NSA scandal that started with Edward Snowden’s disclosures, the Obama administration has continued programs to monitor the activities of American citizens in ways that the public is unaware of and that could be giving government officials intimate details of citizens’ lives.
Asked if intelligence agencies have domestic surveillance programs of which the public is still unaware, Wyden said simply, “Yeah, there’s plenty of stuff.