Two years ago, Edward Snowden holed up in a Hong Kong hotel room to await reaction to his NSA revelations. Today, from somewhere in Moscow, he celebrates that anniversary by penning a New York Times op-ed that opines on privacy and surveillance in the wake of the expiration of key parts of the Patriot Act. The gist of his piece: The world has widely condemned being spied on. "Ending the mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen, but it is only the latest product of a change in global awareness," he writes, listing the various laws enacted around the world since his NSA divulgements came to light. He also notes the technological advances made to protect the average citizen, including renewed attention to protective features like encryption and the detection (and correction) of "secret flaws in critical infrastructure that had been exploited by governments."
Not that our spy troubles are over: Snowden writes that "the right to privacy—the foundation of the freedoms enshrined in the United States Bill of Rights—remains under threat," citing government pressure on online services, continued interception of "billions of cellphone location records," and the monitoring of metadata. "As you read this online, the United States government makes a note," he advises. Snowden also reveals his surprise at how the public ultimately reacted to him spilling the beans. "Privately, there were moments when I worried that we might have put our privileged lives at risk for nothing—that the public would react with indifference, or practiced cynicism, to the revelations," he writes. "Never have I been so grateful to have been so wrong." Click for his full piece. (Read more Edward Snowden stories.)