The relentless push to secure a presidential pardon for former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden has recently reached a new milestone.
The Pardon Snowden campaign addressed a petition to outgoing President Barrack Obama.
According to the campaign’s main website, the petition was accompanied by more than one million signatures from around the world, including from leaders of several human rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and The American Civil Liberties Union.
This petition is part of final efforts to convince President Barack Obama to pardon Edward Snowden as he winds up his presidential term.
Snowden is responsible for the infamous 2013 data breach at NSA.
He leaked a trove of data to specific journalists that revealed widespread and unwarranted surveillance by the agency.
Snowden sought asylum, and is now residing in Russia to avoid persecution under the 1917 Espionage Act.
If he were to be tried in the United States, he would face years in prison.
In the letter accompanying the one million-plus signatures, representatives of the Pardon Snowden Campaign emphasized the reforms that could only have been possible due to Snowden’s actions.
The sheer support shown from people around the world is evidence of the far-reaching impact of the 2013 NSA breach.
Many people view Edward Snowden as a national and worldwide hero because he inspired debate on the issue of privacy, security, and human rights.
The revelations that the NSA was actively spying on United States citizen and American allies, was a win for privacy and democracy advocates.
It showed that organizations tasked with security could overstep their authority and go as far as bypassing international laws.
Those in support of Edward Snowden’s pardon feel that NSA actions should be considered a larger crime; yet, the United States government vehemently underplays this notion while seeking punishment for Snowden.
The civil rights groups that penned the letter noted some vital reforms that were a direct result of Edward Snowden’s actions.
First and foremost, the US government was forced to guide and restrict some of the NSA’s powers.
Secondly, citizens in the US and around the world became more informed on privacy issues, which led to technology vendors modifying and improving their encryption strategies and policies as an indirect demand from the populace.
Security experts estimated that Edward Snowden’s actions helped advance encryption technology seven years.
Today, communication technology companies have to ensure an acceptable level of privacy to avoid backlash from their users.
As effects continue to be felt years after Edward Snowden’s actions, it becomes clear why he is widely regarded as a human rights hero.
The petition also noted that Edward Snowden acted appropriately when he released the data he stole from the NSA.
Edward Snowden chose to leak the documents only after extensive communication with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras.
He knew that the chosen journalists were responsible and the breach would not lead to further indiscriminate leaks.
The manner in which the two journalists released the trove of data showed that Edward Snowden was right in his judgment, which alone sets him apart from other notable whistleblowers whose indiscriminate revelations could have had negative consequences.
So far, Edward Snowden’s actions have largely had positive implications.
As a result, the Pardon Snowden Campaign has labeled him one of the most important whistleblowers in modern history.
More people today are aware of the dangers of assigning unchecked powers to security and surveillance agencies than they were prior to 2013.
This is something that human and civil rights groups have been trying to achieve for years.
The letter addressed to President Obama reminded him of his comments about the privacy and security debate.
In 2014, President Obama pointed out the importance of the debate impelled by Edward Snowden to making the United States a stronger nation.
Although it is still uncertain, it seems highly unlikely that President Obama will offer a pardon to Edward Snowden.
Obama has always been cold about pardoning Snowden, stating that he ultimately broke the law even though he raised vital concerns.
Trying to keep a balance between security and privacy of the American people is among the main reason why President Obama would be reluctant to issue a pardon to Edward Snowden.