The name Edward Snowden has been a major talking point for the year 2013, with the infamous ex-NSA contractor facilitating a number of interesting leaks over the past six months. In an interview conducted by The Washington Post, Snowden reveals some of the reasons behind the leaks, saying that "for me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished. I already won."
Snowden says that the leaks were, in part, designed to highlight misconduct within the NSA, rather than to damage the organization. "I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA", he said. When asked what entitled Snowden to take on this responsibility, he responded by saying "the system failed comprehensively" and so he was "elected" by people who were responsible for the failings.
Before Snowden began leaking information to the press, he says he tried to report misconduct to several NSA superiors among 15 other co-workers, starting in October 2012. Some employees reportedly showed astonishment when Snowden revealed that the NSA collects more information on Americans than Russians, although his reports ultimately went nowhere. Meanwhile, the NSA itself claims there's no record of Snowden raising any issues.
Now residing in Russia, where he's been granted temporary asylum, Snowden revealed many critical NSA programs earlier this year, including PRISM, which allegedly collects data directly from the servers of major tech companies, as well as widespread phone tapping and tracking. The leaks have prompted some tech companies, including Microsoft and Google, to implement stronger encryption and fight back against online surveillance.