In my first substantive discussion with Edward Snowden, which took place via encrypted online chat, he told me he had only one fear. It was that the disclosures he was making, momentous though they were, would fail to trigger a worldwide debate because the public had already been taught to accept that they have no right to privacy in the digital age.
Snowden, at least in that regard, can rest easy. The fallout from the Guardian's first week of revelations is intense and growing.
If "whistleblowing" is defined as exposing secret government actions so as to inform the public about what they should know, to prompt debate, and to enable reform, then Snowden's actions are the classic case.
US polling data, by itself, demonstrates how powerfully these revelations have resonated. Despite a sustained demonization campaign against him from official Washington, a Time magazine poll found that 54% of Americans believe Snowden did "a good thing", while only 30% disagreed. That approval rating is higher than the one enjoyed by both Congress and President Obama.
While a majority nonetheless still believes he should be prosecuted, a plurality of Americans aged 18 to 34, who Time says are "showing far more support for Snowden's actions," do not. Other polls on Snowden have similar results, including a Reuters finding that more Americans see him as a "patriot" than a "traitor."
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