I read Edward Snowden's "Permanent Record" and liked it quite a lot. It's a nice autobiography, a recount of his nerdy youth, his career in intelligence and his way towards whistleblowing.

I'll thread some quotes that may be interesting.

"As the millennium approached, the online world would become increasingly centralized and consolidated, with both governments and businesses accelerating their attempts to intervene in what had always been a fundamentally peer-to-peer relationship. But for one brief and beautiful stretch of time—a stretch that, fortunately for me, coincided almost exactly with my adolescence—the Internet was mostly made of, by, and for the people."

"It’s unimaginable that a major bank or even a social media outfit would hire outsiders for systems-level work. In the context of the US government, however, restructuring your intelligence agencies so that your most sensitive systems were being run by somebody who didn’t really work for you was what passed for innovation."

"The worst-kept secret in modern diplomacy is that the primary function of an embassy nowadays is to serve as a platform for espionage. The old explanations for why a country might try to maintain a notionally sovereign physical presence on another country’s soil faded into obsolescence with the rise of electronic
communications and jet-powered aircraft."


"The unfortunate truth, however, is that the content of our communications is rarely as revealing as its other elements—the unwritten, unspoken information that can expose the broader context and patterns of behavior. The NSA calls this “metadata."

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"Dell—along with the largest cloud-based private companies, Amazon, Apple, and Google—regarded the rise of the cloud as
a new age of computing. But in concept, at least, it was something of a regression to the old mainframe architecture of computing’s earliest history, where many users all depended upon a single powerful central core that could only be maintained by an elite cadre of professionals."

"It’s because of this lack of common definition that citizens of pluralistic, technologically sophisticated democracies feel that they have to justify their desire for privacy and frame it as a right. But citizens of democracies don’t have to justify that desire—the state, instead, must justify its violation."

"As was my typical practice in any new technical position, I spent the earliest days automating my tasks—meaning writing scripts to do my work for me—so as to free up my time for something more interesting."

"The year 2016 was a landmark in tech history, the first year since the invention of the Internet that more Web traffic was encrypted than unencrypted."

"Nearly every country in the world found itself in a similar bind: its citizens outraged, its government complicit."

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