Originally published in The Independent
So this is the house that Edward Snowden built. The introduction of the Freedom Act last week has now reined in the NSA’s powers, particularly regarding the collection of telephony metadata. As part of this, phone records are now in the hands of private companies, rather than the state. This puts the US in the same situation as the UK and, in reality, senior figures in the US intelligence community are relaxed about this, providing the NSA can access them in a speedy manner.
These reforms that have taken place under the Freedom Act are directly attributable to Snowden’s theft of classified documents two years ago and subsequent distribution to journalists. To find out just how high the cost of this has been, I spoke to a range of senior officials in both the US and UK to try and get an idea of the national security impact of Snowden’s disclosures.