The title of this post is my chosen topic for yet another new communications technologies assignment: a research essay. During early to mid-year 2013 Edward Snowden, a former CIA Systems Administrator, provided confidential government documents and information to journalists working for the Guardian media group. The documents provided information about the United States Government operating extensive surveillance programs both nationally and internationally.
There are many elements involved within this topic. Here are a few to be considered:
The first one is obviously whether or not Edward Snowden should be jailed. A secondary element is comparing the prosecution of past information leakers and comparing them based on their positions in relation to the federal government. Members who hold higher positions within the federal government appear to face less harsh consequences for information leaks in comparison to lower level members. Another element involves discussing the charges Edward Snowden might be prosecuted under and whether or not his actions are classified under ‘treason’ (as many have proclaimed). It is also important to discuss the element of the ethics of leaking information and whether or not this is affected by the position of the information leaker(s) within the federal government. Furthermore the opinions of Edward Snowden’s opponents and advocates need to be analysed to determine whether or not there are any marginalising factors within the two groups.
My position is that Edward Snowden should be pardoned as the act he committed served the greater moral good and evidence is not provided to prove the information he leaked caused harm to anyone. This is because during the leaking of information necessary steps were taken to protect people at risk of such information being leaked. My position also supports the argument that the widespread debate over whether or not Edward Snowden is or is not a traitor, or should or should not be jailed, obscures the greater implication that the United States Government and its agencies involved should be held responsible for their actions and that the information leaked shows a greater ethical crime being committed by those parties in comparison to the smaller crimes of Edward Snowden.
The topic question that should be posed is: How can governments be held accountable for unethical practices and actions?