"We've all got something to hide" says Guardian's Alan Rusbridger on NSA data scandal as it scoops Pulitzer for Snowden coverage
"We've all got something to hide" stated The Guardian's editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger in relation to the public and the collection of their data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and after he lauded George Orwell's prediction of many events within his novel, 1984.
Speaking recently at a forum during Advertising Week Europe, Rusbridger chaired a panel session around Edward Snowden's whistle blowing of the widespread NSA data harvesting by the US Government, and was asked what his response to someone using the phrase "if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide" would be.
This led him to reveal that as a consequence of the Snowden story, which has since been awarded a Pulitzer prize, he had been asked to write a preface to Orwell's 75-year old novel that predicted many elements of the digital shift in today's society and the consequential government surveillance that has materialised alongside to ensure public order.
The latest marketing news and insights straight to your inbox.
Get the best of The Drum by choosing from a series of great email briefings, whether that’s daily news, weekly recaps or deep dives into media or creativity.Sign up
"Orwell was not writing a book of predictions, he was writing a book of prophecy and it is interesting to see what he got right," stated Rusbridger, who reminded the audience that television was a new technology when the book was written, which made his vision of it being used for two-way conversation, and for helicopters to be used as drones for surveillance purposes, all the more impressive three quarters of a century in advance.
He also admitted that, despite eight months having elapsed since the original story broke on the NSA data gathering, the volume being retained by the organisation was still unclear.
He then addressed the question, asking the audience if they would be happy to have all of their Google searches for the last three years published. No one volunteered a positive response.
"People are beginning to understand that we've all got something to hide in the sense of what we consider private and what we wouldn't have done if we thought it was going to be made public," he explained generally in conclusion.
Following the session, Rusbridger told The Drum that he believed the Edward Snowden story by The Guardian was one of the most important of the 21st Century and was of interest to everyone.