Former CBC and BBC Radio Host Mary Ambrose sits down with Fen Osler Hampson, co-author of Look Who’s Watching: Surveillance Treachery and Trust Online, for a conversation about sex, spies and life after Edward Snowden.
Now the subject of a feature film by Oliver Stone, Snowden shook the world and rattled the American intelligence establishment when he walked out of a National Security Agency facility with documentation revealing a level of mass surveillance beyond even the imaginings of Hollywood.
The disclosures, first to the Guardian and Washington Post, and later broadcast more widely by Snowden himself, triggered a wave of recriminations from allies of the United States, as well as international protests in support of a figure seen at once as a whistleblower, dissident and traitor.
The Snowden revelations also brought new public scrutiny to how the handling of personal information is governed in the digital sphere, and to the back-door relationships between authorities and digital intermediaries.
Apple, one of the US tech companies that came under scrutiny, appeared to respond to a shifting public mood by adopting a hard line on consumer privacy, to the point of publicly defying a request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to unlock the iPhone of a suspect in a terror attack in San Bernardino, California.
The questions about the behaviour of governments in the digital space has come on top of a series of hacks of consumer data at retailers like Target and service providers like Yahoo that have become almost routine, as well as the sensational leak of the personal details of millions of users of Ashley Madison, a dating service for married people who want to have affairs.
The effect, Mary and Fen discuss in their conversation, has been to call into question the very thing on which the digital world relies most: trust.