According to NSA leaker and current resident of Russia Edward Snowden, the lovely folks at the NSA are intercepting your naked selfies and passing them around the office like adolescent boys – you know, because of course they are.
Snowden recently sat down to talk to The Guardian's Alan Rusbridger in Russia, and a sneak peek of the conversation just went up (the full interview will be released on Friday). In it, Snowden talks about claims that he's a Russian spy, his daily life in the country, and his future. He also dropped this little nugget:
The reality of working in the intelligence community is that you see thing that are deeply troubling – all the time. And it's not just one person, it's many of them.
You've got young enlisted guys, 18 to 22 years old, they've suddenly been thrust into a position of extraordinary responsibility where they now have access to all of your private records. Now, in the course of their daily work, they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work in any sort of necessary sense.
For example, an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation but they're extremely attractive. So what do they do? They turn around in their chair and they show their coworker. And their coworker says 'oh hey, that's great – send that to Bill down the way.'
And then Bill sends it to George, and George sends it to Tom, and sooner or later this person's whole life has been seen by all of these other people.
It's never reported, nobody ever knows about it because the auditing of these systems is incredibly weak. The fact that your private images, records of your private life, records of your intimate moments, have been taken from your private communications from the intended recipient and given to the government without any specific authorization, without any specific need, is itself a violation of your rights.
When asked if he saw numerous instances of this, Snowden said that it was "routine enough."
"Depending on the company you keep, it could be more or less frequent. But these are seen as sort of the fringe benefits of these positions."
If you don't believe Snowden, well then you don't believe Snowden. If you do believe him, however, this is both deeply distressing and completely unsurprising.
As for Snowden himself, he says that he's probably going to stay holed up in Russia for the foreseeable future.
"You know, I'm much happier here in Russia than I would be facing an unfair trial in which I can't even present a public interest defense to a jury of my peers. We've asked the government again and again to provide a fair trial and they've declined, and I feel very fortunate to have received asylum."