As National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden remains on a global-scale quest for asylum, one Massachusetts Institute of Technology scholar offers an institutionally-based perspective.

MIT student Yarden Katz G notes the history of the school’s hacker culture, and says that the school can play an important role in the case:

The MIT community is uniquely positioned to play a special role in this case, and others like it. The long-standing — but potentially fading — hacker culture of MIT, former home of Daniel Ellsberg, stands for individual freedom and privacy. Snowden is the quintessential hacker, refusing to give in to an unjust status quo, and using technical prowess restore the government’s accountability to the people by placing these documents in the public domain. The technically savvy community needs no explanation of the unbounded scope and perils of deregulated digital surveillance. It likewise needs no reminder of the potential for gathering public support for decent causes through the web, and this power must be harnessed to protect people like Snowden.

The unfortunate but realistic reaction in our “post-privacy” age is that these materials would be shrugged off with indifference. People already happily unload their lives onto venues like Facebook with no regard for privacy, and some might accept the premise that if the government were to look through their stuff, well, “it’s only” private emails, chats, photos, etc. The old “I got nothing to hide” argument gravely underestimates the potential of government surveillance to skew reality to imply wrongdoing. As Snowden points out, one only has to fall under suspicion to be monitored and potentially painted as a criminal. Accepting this would mean having total faith in the government’s collection and handling of private data. But we ought to trust the government even less for engaging in unethical activity behind our backs, rather than entrusting that whatever information they might come by, can be handled responsibly.

We need not worry about history. As the recent Guardian editorial points out, history will fall on the side of Snowden. But we have to fight to make sure his life and the lives of others like him are not turned into hell in the meantime, by standing up against oppressive and invasive government surveillance. MIT is a fine place to do so.

Read the original article:
Ed Snowden: A quintessential hacker (The Tech)