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On 5 June 2013, the Guardian began publishing a series of documents leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, revealing the extent of internet surveillance undertaken by government and intelligence agencies. It provoked an immediate outcry. ‘I didn’t want to change society,’ Snowden would later say, in exile. ‘I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.’ And to some extent, he has.
Snowden’s leaks have provoked important debates about the precarious balance between individual privacy and national security on the internet. As a result of his revelations, the internet – and the way many of us use it – is changing dramatically. A new ‘crypto-war’ over the right to online privacy is being waged, with the net becoming increasingly difficult to monitor, and censorship more difficult to enforce. New opportunities are opening up for human rights activists and journalists, but also for criminals and terrorists.
Orwell versus the Terrorists is an insightful and revelatory examination of the history of the battle over privacy online, and a shocking glimpse of the frontline tactics of both sides. In a world in which the rules governing online activity are hazy, nebulous and often contradictory, it also presents a powerful and convincing model for the future of net-surveillance post-Snowden.