Beginning in early June 2013, The Guardian, The New York Times and other media have reported in unprecedented detail on the surveillance activities of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and other intelligence services, based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden, an employee of defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton at the NSA. The leaked documents have revealed how extensively the intelligence agencies have been surveilling whole populations as well as political leaders, United Nations (UN) officials, and businesses such as Google, Petrobas and many others. In other words, the NSA, the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and others have been engaged in mass surveillance. The leaks can be described as an adverse event for the intelligence agencies because the

public now knows that the NSA has seriously infringed their privacy, ostensibly to hunt for terrorists, but the public now knows that the mass and targeted surveillance has served to give national industries an economic advantage over their competitors. The surveillance has served other purposes too. It has been targeted at allies as well as foes. It has been aimed at understanding negotiating strategies. The intelligence agencies have kept an eye on dissidents and civil society organizations who might disrupt social order. The leaks have been an adverse event for political leaders such as US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron because the leaks have embarrassed them and strained their relations with supposed allies, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European parliamentarians, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and others. The leaks have been an adverse event for Verizon, AT&T, Google, Facebook and other businesses that have given access to their networks to the NSA, the public realization of which has undermined public confidence in these companies and the adequacy of the security of the personal data that they hold. The leaks have also been an adverse event for the public, who have been shocked and outraged that the intelligence agencies have so extensively invaded their privacy. This chapter explores the European institutional, judicial, legal, societal, economic and media

responses to the so-called Snowden revelations. While the emphasis of this chapter is on the European impacts, it also references some non-European responses where they seem to be particularly noteworthy. It references only a selection of the many reports based on the leaked

documents and only up to the end of February 2014, so it is, of course, by no means comprehensive, but enough evidence is presented here to allow us to draw some conclusions about the impacts of the Snowden revelations. While the revelations have been a shock to many, if not most people, they have had some unintended, positive impacts, which we identify. We conclude with some observations with regard to the failure of oversight and the damage to democracy. We also pose some unanswered questions and make some recommendations on protecting privacy in a surveillance society. We use mainly media reports as references in this chapter, since the events discussed here have not yet been the object of a more thorough analytical interpretation. What Edward Snowden has brought to the public fore is still to a large extent uncharted territory and so we simply restrict ourselves to document the revelations as they were published by the press, to present a narrative on how the events gradually unfolded over a six-month period and how a kind of symbolic counter-crusade built up. On 5 June 2013, The Guardian published its first exclusive, revealing that the US Foreign

Intelligence Surveillance Court (‘the FISA court’) had granted a secret order forcing Verizon, one of the largest of US telecom companies, to give the NSA access to the phone records of millions of Americans. The NSA would thus have information on all landline and mobile telephone calls in the Verizon network, both within the US and between the US and other countries. The Guardian said that the Obama Administration was collecting the communication records of millions of US citizens, regardless of whether they were suspected of any wrongdoing.1 Following the 11 September 2001 attacks, the Bush Administration had greatly expanded surveillance of the US population, and the Obama Administration has expanded that surveillance even further. The NSA has been collecting ‘metadata’ not only from telecom companies, but also from

Internet social networks. On 6 June 2013, The Washington Post reported the existence of a secret programme code-named PRISM, under which the NSA was collecting e-mails, Internet phone calls, photos, videos, file transfers and social-networking data from Google, Facebook, Apple, YouTube, Skype, Microsoft and PalTalk.2 According to an NSA watcher, the agency runs its intercepts of millions of telephone calls and e-mails through powerful computers that screen them for particular names, telephone numbers, Internet addresses, and trigger words or phrases. Any communications containing flagged information are forwarded by the computer for further analysis.3