Edward Snowden on Hong Kong hotel bed
HotelChatter.com sleuths hotel and room used for Guardian interview
screenshot – Edward Snowden Guardian Interview
The Hawaii rental
What is fascinating and unprecedented, at least as long as I’ve been doing the Bag, is the anonymity of Edward Snowden. Given the aggressive and no-holds-barred nature of personality politics, gossip and online dish, not to mention the era of social networking and personal branding, how is it possible that almost three full internet days have gone by without a single photo of Snowden showing up online (outside of the images captured by the Guardian in a Hong Kong hotel room related to his interview)?
What you see above is what appears so far — at least, Google Image and Google News-wise.
If there is so much information about everyone online, why have we not seen more about Edward Snowden? Heck, why hasn’t the NSA ‘leaked’ anything that could damage him?
Within minutes of the identification of the Boston Bombers we had a plethora of material. Here, not much at all.
One of my favorite science fiction novels is Shockwave Rider by John Brunner. Published in 1975, it focussed on a protagonist who seems eerliy similar to Edward Snowden. Here is how Wikipedia describes Nikc Haflinger:
The hero, Nick Haflinger, is a runaway from Tarnover, a government program intended to find, educate and indoctrinate highly gifted children to further the interests of the state in a future where quantitative analysis backed by the tacit threat of coercion has replaced overt military and economic power as the deciding factor in international competition.
Nick is able to use the skills he learned to make himself invisible to the system. So, as it collects instantaneous data on everyone else, he can move unseen.
So, now we have someone with the skills to call up information on anyone. He was very careful in how he released this information. Lots of planning went into it. He was careful with what he released, so far, where he was interviewed and what his plans were.
Is he now invisible?
Could he also make sure that any data about him was simply deleted? Is he undetectable to the very system he revealed?
Did he create backdoors that will allow him to prevent NSA from finding him no matter where he chose to hide? Is he even still in Hong Kong?
I do not know but read Shockwave Rider and you might get a better idea of the possibilities.