5 y ago
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I used to work for Blizzard. The Chinese government requested that we modify the WoW client so that they could intercept all chat. As far as I know, no-one said anything, including me - and Blizzard, of course, was more than happy to comply, given the size of the market and the risk of being forbidden to do business there. There were plenty of other MMOGs happy to play ball and eat that cake.
I didn't say anything. It was happening to "them", Chinese nationals. Not only that, but "they" should know better than to say sensitive things online, because even if we didn't install the back door, I reasoned, it wouldn't be too hard to get that data through various other means.
I really regret not only my participation, but not making a big stink about it. No-one did. I strongly suspect that that same system is being being used domestically, now. Clearly it was the wrong thing to do. I've regretted my role in that implementation for several years. I shouldn't have participated, and I should have protested. Even if it didn't stop it, at least the company leadership might have felt the heat. But I was a coward and I didn't want to lose my job, didn't want to fight a legal battle, and, like I said, it was just China spying on it's people, which everyone knew they do anyway.
And who knows? The news probably would have been ignored, or, if it wasn't, I might have been branded as a coward and a disloyal employee, betraying the people who put food on my table. And I being under 30, overpaid, over-priviledged, etc. I can hear the Fox News commentators even now. That, to me, has been the most difficult thing about Snowden, is that here's someone who did the right thing, who revealed wrong-doing on the part of our government, and there are a lot of people who say he's the wrongdoer, who attack him as disloyal and worse. A back door in a game used by China? Who would even care about that? And if they did, I'd just be torn to shreds, unemployable and with heaven-knows-what kind of future.
The reaction to Manning and Snowden, particularly the lack of strong public support, sends a strong signal that people don't want to know. They don't want to upset the apple cart. They don't want to challenge the government, they don't want to question it, not even when it's clearly violating it's own most important rules - the rules that, presumably, we've been fighting to promote these last 200 years. It seems hopeless.
Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.
Michael Ratner, an attorney for WikiLeaks and president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said on the call that it's troubling to see the United States trying to block asylum for someone who is a "clear whistleblower." He added, however, that "maybe it's not so surprising," given the Obama administration's history of cracking down on whistleblowers.