"This is the most visible line in the sand for people," Oliver said, trying to get Snowden to simplify his position. "Can [the NSA] see my d---?"
If you can place Edward Snowden‘s name but you’re not too sure what it is that he did, you’re not alone.
As John Oliver made abundantly clear on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, not only do many Americans think he’s “the Wikileaks guy” (that’s Julian Assange), but the whistleblower acknowledged in his interview with Oliver that his position has been so convoluted and the conversation so “challenging” that “it’s difficult for most people to even conceptualize.”
In fact, Snowden’s overly complicated reasoning began to cause Oliver’s eyes to glaze during the conversation. The Last Week Tonight Host tried to impress upon Snowden, 31, the importance of cutting through the technobabble so that Americans could understand the NSA’s impact and the impact of the documents that Snowden released to select media outlets.
So, Oliver, 37, distilled the issue in a way that anybody could understand: He showed Snowden a nude photo of himself and asked, “Let’s go through each NSA program and explain to me its capabilities in regards to that photograph of my penis.”
Whenever Snowden veered off topic, Oliver redirected him: “I’m only concerned about my penis.”
As it turns out, there are many ways that the NSA can access your information – even your nude photos. Even if you’re sending a photo domestically through a service like Gmail, the document can bounce around from data center to data center and across state borders invisibly and without your knowledge.
The NSA also knows with whom you’re sharing your nude photos, they know “if you call a penis enlargement center” and they can work with Google, for example, to pull your photos from Gmail: “The government deputizes them to be sort of their little surveillance sheriff,” said Snowden.
“D— sheriff?” asked Oliver. Indeed.
But does this mean that you should stop sending nude photos (or any other information you’d normally send)? Snowden doesn’t think so.
“You shouldn’t change your behavior because a government agency somewhere is doing the wrong thing,” said Snowden. “If we need to sacrifice our values because we’re afraid, we don’t care about those values very much.”
So, keep sending those nude photos – do it for America. (Just be aware that the NSA will almost definitely see them – not to mention a whole lot of other information you might want to keep to yourself.)