In case you somehow missed it, the big news on Sunday was the revelation that 29-year-old former CIA employee Edward Snowden, who has worked for the NSA for the last four years, was the man responsible for leaking the information about the PRISM program.
Predictably, some on the Internet are hailing Snowden as a hero, and there are now at least two petitions that have now been started to help him out: one to raise money to help Snowden pay his bills while he is on the lam in Hong Kong, and another to get the White House to pardon him (yeah, good luck with that one!).
The campaign to raise money to help Snowden live while he is on the run was started on Crowdtilt.
"Ed Snowden is the 29-year-old whistleblower behind the biggest intelligence leak in decades, possibly in U.S. history. Now, his future is uncertain while he's on the run in Hong Kong," the creators of the campaign wrote.
"We should set a precedent by rewarding this type of extremely courageous behavior. It's definitely apparent that legal fees may soon be a big part of his future, but I don't care how he uses the funds raised, whether it's for a business-class trip to Iceland or just to pay his hotel bills, it's a reward that I believe we shoudl band together and provide him with... Whether it's $5 or $500, his courage should be rewarded."
While some might question the legitimacy of such a campaign, and also how exactly they would actually get the money to Snowden, the campaign is legitimate and will be giving the money it raises directly to Snowden, according to Crowdtilt:
We've spoken to this campaign creator. It's a verified campaign, funds will be sent from us directly to E Snowden! tilt.tc/03Vq— Crowdtilt (@Crowdtilt) June 10, 2013
The campaign has already raised $4,501 out of a target of $15,000.
The second petition is a WhiteHouse.gov camoaign that is attempting to get the White House to pardon Snowden.
"Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs," the petition reads.
The campaign already has 13,071 signatures, with a goal of 100,000. If you remember, in January the White House raised the threshold from 25,000 to 100,000 in order for the campaign to receive an official response from the Obama Administration.
Though Snowden has not technically even been charged with anything yet, this is an administration that is notorious for cracking down on leakers and whistleblowers, and Snowden is responsible leaking highly classified information. You can imagine that the government will be looking to throw the book at him.
The PRISM program involved the ability of the government to collect data about people, with the idea that it will help the government stop terror plots.
It was initially reported to have involved the government tapping into the servers of numerous Internet companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple in order to extract audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets.
All companies involved denied giving the government access to their servers, and the government has released more details about the program, in which it said that the program, which was approved by Congress, only allows the government to target people after it gets approval from the courts.
"Under Section 702 of FISA, the United States Government does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers. All such information is obtained with FISA Court approval and with the knowledge of the provider based upon a written directive from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence."
And, according to President Obama, the program can only be used on those living outside the U.S.
"Now, with respect to the Internet and emails, this does not apply to U.S. citizens, and it does not apply to people living in the United States," he said.
(Image source: http://www.csmonitor.com)