Edward Snowden One Year of Leaks - Need More WhistleBlowers
Security expert Mikko Hypponen believes that Edward Snowden has sacrificed everything to save us, and hopes he will inspire more whistleblowersReuters

Not everyone agrees on what Edward Snowden's legacy will be.

Some view him as a traitor who has sold out his country for personal fame, while others view him as a hero who gave up everything to reveal what he felt was the illegal surveillance of US citizen.

Firmly in the latter camp is renowned security expert Mikko Hypponen. Looking back on the one year anniversary of the first report being published based on leaked documents from Snowden, the Finnish security expert told IBTimes UK:

"Edward Snowden gives me hope. Here's a guy who sacrificed all to save us, and we the citizens of the world should be thankful."

Not everyone in the security industry agrees with Hypponen however. Earlier this year Eugene Kaspersky told IBTimes UK that he thought Snowden was a traitor and "belongs in the ninth circle of hell" which, in the first part of Dante Alighieri's epic 14th century poem Divine Comedy, is said to reserved for traitors who who betrayed their lords and benefactors.

When Snowden stole the cache of highly secret documents he was working for NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton as an "infrastructure analyst".

Did the right thing

Hypponen agrees that Snowden did breach the trust placed in him by his superiors, but says he did so for the right reasons:

"Not everything he did was technically right - he broke the trust of his employer and his NDA, but nevertheless he did the right thing."

Hypponen believes that while we now know a lot about the surveillance carried out by a select group of countries, it will take people like Snowden in other countries to reveal the full extent of government surveillance.

"Now we know a lot about surveillance the Five Eyes countries [Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, US] are conducting. Other countries are spying as well, we just don't have concrete evidence about it yet because they haven't had their Snowdens. So I hope we get more Snowdens from other superpowers."


Cheltenham-based GCHQ reportedly targeted telecom staff with bogus LinkedIn website. (Reuters)

For Hypponen, the revelation that the UK spying agency GCHQ was monitoring people's webcam chats was the most surprising revelation from the last 12 months. "What in the world were they thinking?"

He adds that in the 23 years he has worked with F-Secure the company has never changed as much as it has the past year - something which is symptomatic of the whole industry.

For the consumer, Hypponen believes that while there has been some outrage, there has not been a major shift away from services offered by the likes of Google and Apple despite the revelations showing that the NSA has access to customer data.

For businesses however, there has been changes:

"Businesses are very much moving their data away from US clouds. They know that when they store data in US clouds, the US government has a right to look at that data, and they must take that very seriously."

Rise up

What the eventual legacy of the Snowden revelations will be is unclear at the moment, and as we move into the second year of Snowden leaks, it is unlikely that the revelations will get any less forceful.

Indeed Glenn Greenwald has promised to publish the name of every single US citizen that the NSA was spying on in the coming weeks and months, something which will likely bring the debate about privacy, government oversight and security back onto the front page again.

Ever since the first revelations a year ago, privacy advocates have been calling on people around the globe to rise up against their government's actions.

On Thursday the millions joined in the Reset the Net campaign which was supported by Google, Modzilla, Reddit and Imgur.

At the same time, major tech companies like Microsoft, AOL, Twitter, Facebook and Apple who are part of an alliance called Reform Government Surveillance, published an open letter to the US Senate calling for the approval and expansion of National Security Agency reform.

Advance digital freedom

While the US government has made some changes, Hypponen believes these are focused internally:

"Practically all the changes we've seen have been to improve the privacy of US citizens, not foreigners. Politicians have to keep their voters satisfied, and we foreigners won't be able to vote them out of their positions."

Hypponen is adding his voice to the campaign, calling on people to help draft the Digital Freedom manifesto, a crowdsourced document that will be used "to advance digital freedom in the world."

Anyone concerned about digital freedom and privacy can contribute their ideas and opinions – even if it's just a sentence. The manifesto is licensed under creative commons and is open for contributions until the 30 June.