Snowden Warns Governments Are Using Coronavirus to Build ‘the Architecture of Oppression’


Edward Snowden



Smith: Why does it seem like we're so ill-prepared?

Snowden: There is nothing more foreseeable as a public health crisis in a world where we are just living on top of each other in crowded and polluted cities, than a pandemic. And every academic, every researcher who's looked at this knew this was coming. And in fact, even intelligence agencies, I can tell you firsthand, because they used to read the reports had been planning for pandemics.

Are autocratic regimes better at dealing with things like this than democratic ones?
I don't think so. I mean, there are arguments being made that China can do things that the United States can't. That doesn't mean that what these autocratic countries are doing is actually more effective.

If you're looking at countries like China, where cases seem to have leveled off, how much can we trust that those numbers are actually true?
I don't think we can. Particularly, we see the Chinese government recently working to expel Western journalists at precisely this moment where we need credible independent warnings in this region.

It seems that [coronavirus] may be the greatest question of the modern era around civil liberties, around the right to privacy. Yet no one's asking this question.
As authoritarianism spreads, as emergency laws proliferate, as we sacrifice our rights, we also sacrifice our capability to arrest the slide into a less liberal and less free world.

Do you truly believe that when the first wave, this second wave, the 16th wave of the coronavirus is a long-forgotten memory, that these capabilities will not be kept? That these datasets will not be kept? No matter how it is being used, what’ is being built is the architecture of oppression.

Watch the full interview above.