Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Snowden asylum woes

Seems to be that, despite Edward Snowden's legion well-wishers, he is running out of options for asylum. It's not surprising, though, because his revelation of a massive surveillance operation being secretly run by his country sticks him right between political Scylla and Charybdis.

American allies will not risk it, of course. But the problem now is that most enemies of America tend to be surveillance-oriented states themselves (to the degree to which their technological development level permits), and would not wish to make it look like anyone can get away with whistle-blowing of this humiliating magnitude. Even though their citizens' legal protections against surveillance are officially poor, the effectiveness of any surveillance - even that conducted in a totalitarian police state that does not pay so much as lip service to the concepts of privacy and probable cause - is greatly enhanced by making it discrete at a tactical level.

Thus, while the average private and privacy-protective citizen may support Snowden, getting officially-sanctioned asylum may prove a tough mission, unless he finds himself an unlikely combination of a state that's both opposed to the US and either has no broad surveillance program or has a thoroughly transparent one.

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