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Le Monde To Macron: Grant Snowden Asylum In France

Leading French daily says that France (and the West) must live up to claims as protectors of freedom as represented by the exiled American whistleblower.

Snowden has appeared all over Europe, always remotely.
Snowden has appeared all over Europe, always remotely.
Le Monde


PARIS — During the Cold War, Western democracies rightly denounced the mass surveillance put in place by Eastern totalitarian regimes, offering refuge to dissidents who protested against such violations of basic freedom.

A few decades later, the Orwellian dystopia of disappearing privacy is becoming more and more concrete around the world, thanks to state intelligence agencies and the complicity of the giant internet companies. The revelation that civil liberties were being nibbled away at came to light thanks, in great part, to Edward Snowden: the talented techie turned enemy of the state in his native country, the United States.

In 2013, the secret documents he leaked to the press revealed large-scale surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency, his employer. In the wake of the September 11th attacks, taking advantage of the widespread use of the internet and exponential storage capacities, intelligence services began secretly and systematically capturing citizen communications— without any democratic oversight whatsoever.

Snowden's revelations triggered a greater awareness of the standing of civil liberties, not just with political powers— who themselves were sometimes spied on by the intelligence agencies of allied countries— but also with the public. It shone a light on the ambiguous role of the top American tech firms and cleared the way for the burgeoning counter-attack by government authorities, whose rights were being eroded by the ambitions of the likes of Google and Facebook.

That Edward Snowden, flying towards a South-American exile around this time six years ago, ended up finding refuge in Moscow, where his passport was confiscated by the U.S. during a layover, doesn't change anything: he remains the world's most famous whistleblower, a powerful force in spurring a global mobilization to preserve civil liberties.

Earlier this week, Snowden spoke by teleconference on French radio station France Inter to speak about his new book. Recalling that he had applied, in vain, for asylum in France during the presidency of François Hollande, Snowden said he hoped current President Emmanuel Macron would reconsider letting him enter. If that happened, France would be doing itself an honor to welcome and protect him.

The West shouldn't allow Putin to stake a claim as protector of this freedom fighter.

The former French president rejected his application in 2013 because Snowden was not physically on French soil, which is a condition for asylum in the Geneva Convention. But since 1946, France has had the right to extend beyond French borders a special protection procedure that extends to anyone persecuted for their efforts to uphold liberty. French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet has stated that she's in favor of this ruling, as is a top ally of Marcon, European Parliament member Nathalie Loiseau, who believes Snowden "has done humanity a service."

There's no denying the shock that welcoming Snowden to France would create, nor the potential consequences of such an important decision in terms of intelligence cooperation.

The whistleblower's current situation shouldn't let us forget that authoritarian countries like Russia and China are the first to use the internet to repress their citizens. It is for this exact reason that Western democracies shouldn't allow Vladimir Putin to stake a claim as protector of the freedom fighter that is Edward Snowden. Granting him asylum would be a good way for Macron to put into practice what he preaches about human rights being "the common good of all Europe," and about France's particular singularity in this world on this regard.

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Look At This Crap! The "Enshittification" Theory Of Why The Internet Is Broken

The term was coined by journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the fatal drift of major Internet platforms: if they were ever useful and user-friendly, they will inevitably end up being odious.

A photo of hands holding onto a smartphone

A person holding their smartphone

Gilles Lambert/ZUMA
Manuel Ligero


The universe tends toward chaos. Ultimately, everything degenerates. These immutable laws are even more true of the Internet.

In the case of media platforms, everything you once thought was a good service will, sooner or later, disgust you. This trend has been given a name: enshittification. The term was coined by Canadian blogger and journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the inevitable drift of technological giants toward... well.

The explanation is in line with the most basic tenets of Marxism. All digital companies have investors (essentially the bourgeoisie, people who don't perform any work and take the lion's share of the profits), and these investors want to see the percentage of their gains grow year after year. This pushes companies to make decisions that affect the service they provide to their customers. Although they don't do it unwillingly, quite the opposite.

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Annoying customers is just another part of the business plan. Look at Netflix, for example. The streaming giant has long been riddling how to monetize shared Netflix accounts. Option 1: adding a premium option to its regular price. Next, it asked for verification through text messages. After that, it considered raising the total subscription price. It also mulled adding advertising to the mix, and so on. These endless maneuvers irritated its audience, even as the company has been unable to decide which way it wants to go. So, slowly but surely, we see it drifting toward enshittification.

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