#2 Greenwald in the Discussion of Cyber Freedom and Security

// Posted by on 09/22/2014 (10:31 AM)

For our second classroom experience, each member of our class took on a dominant figure in the narrative of cyber security and cyber freedom. This bit of role-playing served as part of a larger game that had each persona make critical decisions in response to a set of hypothetical situations proposed by the simulation.

For my part, I assumed the role of journalist Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald is known for his work in investigating matters of cyber freedom and as seen in his reporting of The abuses of power taken by the National Security Agency in their mass surveilance of American citizens. Greenwald was hand selected by Edward Snowden, to leak the first documents that Snowden had taken from the NSA. His work covering the situation involving Snowden and the NSA has brought Greenwald to the forefront of discussion on Cyber freedom and also earned him the 2014 Pullitzer Prize for Public Service.

The other personas used in the experience included Russia, Hong Kong, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Wikileaks Silicon Valley and the NSA/US government. My classmates had assumed the personas of some of the most important whistleblowers in recent history, the governments involved in the discussion and private organizations/companies that were heavily tied to the debate.

Assuming the role of the reporter in the room, My initial reaction was to document the experience by recording the conversation and taking consistent notes throughout. Whereas my classmates were making the critical decisions in policies that would dictate the cyber safety and freedom of the future, I elected to sit back, analyze and ask the important questions. I found it quite difficult to adapt the persona of Greenwald. The experience required me to consider the relationships that Greenwald held with other parties, no matter how close they were connected. Yes, the relationship between Greenwald and Snowden is predominately clear to see, but when I was asked wether I would jeopardize my relationship with Snowden to work with a free Chelsea Manning living in Russia. The question was one that I was and still am not sure how to answer. As a journalist, I feel Greenwald has the civic duty to remain as objective as possible and do as much as he can to report anything relating to the discussion of cyber freedom. That coupled with factors like Greenwald being a staunch supporter of LGBT rights leads me to believe he would want to work with Manning. On the other hand, Greenwald clearly has an existing relationship with Snowden that has paid him dividends in his career and still has much to offer. Working with Manning poses a risk to Greenwald’s relationship with Snowden who could very easily sever ties between them.

The question highlighted what I think was the most important observation I made during the experience: that the discussion of cyber freedom and cyber security is highlighted by the relationships held between multiple parties and how the decisions of one can drastically impact the situations of the other parties. It was enlightening to consider the interactions between figures like Greenwald and Russia, who although are not directly related, indirectly have huge connections to each other regarding cyber security and freedom.  The immersive experience allowed me to look deeper into the decision-making and thought processes that dominate the discussion of cyber freedom and security in ways that reading a book could not.

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