This was originally published on the Open Gov Hub blog.
As some governments become less open, the role of whistleblowers as agents of accountability become even more important. That’s why Open Gov Hub hosted two whistleblower workshops in mid-July, as whistleblowers continue to be an important piece of promoting open governments.
In collaboration with the Government Accountability Project, Open the Government, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, The Intercept, and MuckRock, we gathered public interest activists and immigration justice activists together over two different workshops.
Most ordinary users of Google see the tech company, valued at $527 billion, as just a convenient way to quickly determine which 80s pop star sang “Take on Me” for trivia night. (Answer: A-Ha). But a company does not get that rich just because they can help answer random questions.
Google is an international behemoth, even entering into countries with horrific human rights violations and censorship. In those cases, Google often strives to adhere to the national laws and restrictions in order to gain access to the market, deeming that it is better to provide their service with restriction than no service at all. It is not at all surprising that Google has its hands in many different countries. Google’s executives are deeply intertwined with the US State Department.
The impacts of the revelations regarding the PRISM program and massive US surveillance within Europe is still reverberating today. Naturally many European leaders were furious, while others, like David Cameron, were less so due to their own intelligence agency working in tandem with the NSA. The most notable impact within the policy realm has been, of course, the end of the Safe Harbor agreement between the US and the EU.
Another part of the massive government surveillance program that was revealed in 2013 (although not by Snowden) is called Hemisphere. Hemisphere is faintly similar to other cases of government overreach in criminal cases, as, although the premise behind the Hemisphere program was to track the movements of drug dealers, things went further.