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Edward Snowden, the man who risked everything to expose the US government’s system of mass surveillance, reveals for the first time the story of his life, including how he helped to build that system and what motivated him to try to bring it down.
In 2013, twenty-nine-year-old Edward Snowden shocked the world when he broke with the American intelligence establishment and revealed that the United States government was secretly pursuing the means to collect every single phone call, text message, and email. The result would be an unprecedented system of mass surveillance with the ability to pry into the private lives of every person on earth. Six years later, Snowden reveals for the very first time how he helped to build this system and why he was moved to expose it.
Spanning the bucolic Beltway suburbs of his childhood and the clandestine CIA and NSA postings of his adulthood, Permanent Record is the extraordinary account of a bright young man who grew up online – a man who became a spy, a whistleblower, and, in exile, the Internet’s conscience. Written with wit, grace, passion, and an unflinching candor, Permanent Record is a crucial memoir of our digital age and destined to be a classic.
The notorious and celebrated whistleblower---who divulged top-secret documents revealing the mass surveillance of citizens' phone calls, emails, and internet activity by the U. S. National Security Agency and other intelligence organizations---recounts his battle with the system in this impassioned memoir. Snowden, a former systems engineer and NSA contractor and now board president of the Freedom of the Press Foundation from his Moscow exile, presents himself as animated by a combination of idealism and covert nonconformity, someone who subverted the rules as a civic duty from middle school history class to his CIA training program. (As a teenager he hacked classified files at Los Alamos National Laboratory, then pestered lab officials into fixing the security flaw.) Snowden's well-observed portrait of intelligence work reveals spooky Langley night shifts, spies pilfering nude selfies from private online accounts, and his own intricate, suspenseful operation to steal documents using byzantine encryption and tiny storage cards smuggled past guards. His somewhat paranoid brief against the surveillance state is less convincing; he envisions the government permanently recording every communication, movement, misdemeanor, and sin, subjecting citizens to "oppression by total automated law enforcement," but he cites no cases of serious harm from NSA surveillance and doesn't make a strong argument that it leads inevitably to oppressive control. Still, Snowden's many admirers will find his saga both captivating and inspiring.