On April 5th, John Oliver sat down with Edward Snowden to discuss the NSA and Section 215’s renewal on June 1, 2015 and the debate the needs to happen to reform it. To their surprise the average American citizen is not aware of the NSA’s activities or who Edward Snowden is or how his actions have transformed privacy and surveillance in America.
With Snowden’s help, Oliver went through the various NSA programs that have been leaked through his data dump, including Prism and Upstream, to see whether such pictures could be obtained and viewed by the NSA. In each case, Snowden explained how the programs could allow for such private pictures to be collected and viewed by NSA officials.
Oliver’s intention was clear: to make the impact of Snowden’s leaks easier for the average person to understand. Snowden agreed it takes real technical know-how to appreciate how the NSA collects information.
“When you send your junk through Gmail, that’s stored on Google’s servers,” Snowden said, explaining one way in which a “pic” could find its way to the NSA through the government’s Prism program. “Google moves data from data center to data center — invisibly to you without your knowledge — your data could be moved outside the borders of the United States, temporarily. When your junk was passed by Gmail, the NSA caught a copy of that.”