One of the things Twitter
excels at is providing a stage for conversations between extraordinary people. On the service’s 10th anniversary, that honor went to NSA whisteblower Edward Snowden and David Simon, creator of the hit TV show The Wire.
The name of that show, of course, referred to the targeted surveillance techniques employed by fictionalized Baltimore police in their fight against drug gangs. Who better to converse with the man most widely associated with blowing the lid on the authorities’ mass surveillance methodologies?
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Snowden and Simon’s conversation was sparked by debate over a New York Times article about the methods used by the Paris attackers. That piece caused widespread dismay among cybersecurity experts due to its evidence-light assertion that the attackers used encryption, but this chat was more about its references to “burner” (i.e., disposable, briefly used) phones.
Snowden, apparently parodying those who argued he himself was responsible for aiding terrorists through his revelations, tweeted that Simon had done the same through his show.
Simon quickly pointed out that, if burner phones were really a problem, then the mass surveillance techniques that Snowden tackled might actually help by alerting authorities to those devices, before they get destroyed.
The discussion moved on to the length of time terrorists hang on to their burner phones, and the kinds of surveillance that people should protest against.
Twitter wrapped up the conversation into one of its curated “Moments” collections, which is embedded below.