Anyone interested in Internet security, privacy or digital freedoms knows Edward Snowden. He announced in 2013 how the NSA (National Security Agency – a US intelligence agency):

(1) Systematic and mass surveillance of American and foreign citizens. Among other things, via direct access to servers from Microsoft, Google, FaceBook, YouTube and Apple ( The Guardian – Prism – How it works ).

(2) Sharing information with other intelligence agencies, such as the British, creating a sort of global surveillance network.

(3) – illegal at the time – monitored the telephone conversations of all US citizens.

The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost any flow of data. Thanks to this capability, the vast majority of human communications are intercepted automatically and without targeting.

“I don’t want to live in a society that does things like that…I don’t want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That’s something I don’t support or want to live under .” (The Guardian – Edward Snowden)

My opinion on the book “Permanent Record”

Even before reading the book, it was clear to me that Edward Snowden is a hero and that his actions are an example of incredible civil courage. He risked everything for his values, morals and humanity. We should experience how much state institutions and Internet companies invade our privacy and violate our fundamental rights on a daily basis. Above all, Snowden wanted to give the world and his country a second chance with these publications. For a world without digital mass surveillance.

His book is a very personal insight into his life. Surely it is also intended to explain (not justify) how he came to the decision to publish top secret information.

We learn that Ed grew up with the internet. He’s been hacking (ethically) since he was a kid. He has contacted companies with insecure websites so that they can close their gaps. He also describes how, as an outside collaborator with the NSA, he gradually discovered the sheer scale of mass surveillance. As the creator and admin of an MS Exchange service that made all NSA documents searchable worldwide, he had inconspicuous access to all documents. In this way, he also managed to smuggle relevant documents onto micro SD cards from the NSA high-security area in a nerve-wracking Sisyphean task.

In the book he describes his conflict between betrayal of secrets and ethical action and his decision to publish the crimes of his authority.

A piece of world history and a book that is absolutely worth reading by a real (silent) hero who has given up his young, promising life to follow his convictions.

Sources, tips and links for further reading

The book is available from Hugendubel*: Permanent Record , 2020, 428 pages

IMDB, “Citizenfour”, documentary film, 2014

* no affiliate links – ie no money flows for these recommendations!