Thursday, 4 July 2013

Why no one will take Snowden

Let me make something of a bold assumption here: no nation anywhere is going to offer Snowden amnesty on his conditions.

Snowden is young, and has proven he is ready to take on the US.  Over the next 50 years where ever he lived he would become disillusioned, get in some trouble maybe, and almost certainly have the motivation and ability to hack the hell out of that nation.

Why?  Well I have to accuse Snowden and Wikileaks supporters with extreme short sightedness.  They simply see this a single transaction between the US and themselves.  Snowden supporters are thinking in terms of weeks, maybe months.

Now try to take the position of a nation's leader.  What Snowden is asking is that he be allowed in to your nation, for life, with continued access to the Internet.  His rejection of the Russian offer makes it clear that he will continue to pass secrets he has to the world press.  So you are letting a hacker with massive skills and the motivation to expose secrets about the US in to your nation.

If you step back for a minute a view it from the point of view of other nations you can see easily this is not an issue of US bullying per say. Snowden is just obviously not someone any leader would want to bring in to their nation.

Snowden has already proven he has the capacity to hack at an extremely high level.  He is much more than Manning, who was just handed the data because of lack security during the Iraq War, or Assange who is willing to publish data that is passed to him.

Snowden is a very different animal, he is someone able to break the security protections of the most advanced nation on Earth.  He is an extremely skilled hacker, maybe one of the best on the planet.  Normally this would be a great resume to be invited to live in another nation.  But he has also demonstrated an indifference to the laws of one nation: the United States.

Now what Snowden's knee jerk supporter have to get over is, that despite their own personal hatred of the United States, America still provides some of the highest level of free speech and personal freedom in the world.  I say this as an American who has lived in Europe and North Africa.  Even in a very free nation like the UK I find sometimes I have to watch what I tweet, idle gossip could get you in some libel trouble in England.  And in North Africa I surfed an utterly censored net, a world where it was illegal to show the Simpson on cable TV.

I can say having lived in many nations that as far as expression goes the United States is virtually unmatched, and no other society on Earth provides so much freedom to so many.   None of the nations likely to seriously consider giving him asylum are anywhere near the level of the US in press freedoms and civil liberties.

The leaders of nations like Venezuela and Ecuador as well as Russia and even the EU, despite what they say, know the truth.  They know that they have secrets, they know that they spy on their own people and spy on other nations, and they know that they probably have worse free speech record than the United States and not as good security of their government information.

Inviting Snowden connected to the Internet in their nation would be a risk to themselves that no nation will take.  Snowden is young, and has proven he is ready to take on the US.  Over the next 50 years where ever he lived he would become disillusioned, get in some trouble maybe, and almost certainly have the motivation and ability to hack the hell out of that nation.

And once you invite Snowden in as a hero of free speech it becomes hard to prosecute him.  Given that the theme of the entire Snowden vs. America event is American hypocrisy, a nation that would allow him in would find it humiliating to punish Snowden starts dumping masses of secret data about them.

So my prediction is that Snowden has gone Assange in the growing group of Internet kids who live in a world oddly separate from geo-political reality, one that is purely cyberspace.  It is easy enough to say they have become global citizens of the Internet, but both men still have bodies, though Assange's seems to get him in more trouble.  They need a place to sleep and go to the bathroom.

Both men have ended up living in strange non-zomes created by our geo-political reality.  Assange is in an Embassy in London with no possibility of his ever going to Ecuador avoiding 'the terrible evil' that is Sweden.  Snowden is stuck in the international zone of an airport, not in any nation at all.

Perhaps a growing group of these autistic cyberkids simply can no longer live in nations.  Though they are fine living in a single room for years on end, they dread lose of the Internet and lose of their ability to hack.  But no nation really wants them.  The west remains their best prospect for life but when a nation like Sweden is too oppressive once can only wonder where they can live contented.

Perhaps one of their wealthy supporters could buy a ship, a converted deep sea fishing vessel that could stay in International waters forever.  A nation of Cyper-land, with enough on ship protection to fight off enemy nations and pirates, a sort of Nemo of the 21st Century utterly detached from the world of nations and yet connected via the world of hacks and secrets.

The thing is I think over time we would know what this ship would become: I suspect inevitably as more and more stateless individual driven beyond the world of possible political loyalty by their love of the Internet found themselves on this ship, it would become the ship of fools.

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