A Manifesto for the Truth

A Manifesto for the Truth

by , November 04, 2013

This article by Edward Snowden was published Sunday in Der Spiegel.

In a very short time, the world has learned much about unaccountable secret   agencies and about sometimes illegal surveillance programs. Sometimes the agencies   even deliberately try to hide their surveillance of high officials or the public.   While the NSA and GCHQ seem to be the worst offenders – this is what the currently   available documents suggest – we must not forget that mass surveillance is a   global problem in need of global solutions.

Such programs are not only a threat to privacy, they also threaten freedom   of speech and open societies. The existence of spy technology should not determine   policy. We have a moral duty to ensure that our laws and values limit monitoring   programs and protect human rights.

Society can only understand and control these problems through an open, respectful   and informed debate. At first, some governments feeling embarrassed by the revelations   of mass surveillance initiated an unprecedented campaign of persecution to supress   this debate. They intimidated journalists and criminalized publishing the truth.   At this point, the public was not yet able to evaluate the benefits of the revelations.   They relied on their governments to decide correctly.

Today we know that this was a mistake and that such action does not serve   the public interest. The debate which they wanted to prevent will now take place   in countries around the world. And instead of doing harm, the societal benefits   of this new public knowledge is now clear, since reforms are now proposed in   the form of increased oversight and new legislation.

Citizens have to fight suppression of information on matters of vital public   importance. To tell the truth is not a crime.

Translated by Martin Eriksson. This   text was written by Edward Snowden on November 1, 2013 in Moscow. It was sent   to SPIEGEL staff over an encrypted channel.

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