back to article Don't be stiffed by spies, stand up to Uncle Sam with your proud d**k pics – says Snowden

One of the more unusual interviews with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden left the fugitive reduced to describing freedom-chilling, globe-spanning spy programs in terms of sexy selfies. Youtube video The face-to-face chat was filmed in Moscow with British comedian John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight, and focused on the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    YouTube Error

    Error for the YouTube clip - "Embedding not allowed".

    1. Cliff

      Re: YouTube Error

      Show off! I get 'not in your country, sonny boy!'

      1. moiety Silver badge

        Re: YouTube Error

        It played for me (spain). Do Australians feel like this all the time?

      2. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

        Re: YouTube Error

        It's not allowed in the UK also.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: YouTube Error

      Works for us in northern California – sorry.

      C.

      1. Ole Juul

        Re: YouTube Error

        It doesn't work for me using a California IP VPN. I get:

        Flash version must be 10.0 or greater

        Unfortunately I've got version 11.2. (I guess Adobe does their own, in house, math.)

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: YouTube Error

        Everything works for you in Northern California. You need to step out of the galactic centre a bit more, or at least use a proxy. It doesn't have to be as far as Terminus though, perhaps you know some chaps in the UK or Australia who can help?

  2. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Its smart to put the NSA's surveillance in a context that people understand

    The fact is that most people don't pay too much attention to the news, and if they do they quickly forget who-did-what. Putting the issue in terms of whether the government should have the right to intercept intimate pictures that are sent between lovers and spouses boils the issue down to its core privacy principles.

    Also, kudos to HBO for producing so much good original programming. This Sunday they start the new seasons of Game of Thrones, Veep and Silicon Valley on the same day and run the seasons concurrently. If those shows carry forward their past quality, that may very well be the best night of original series programming on any network, anywhere, all year long.

    1. Keef

      Re: Its smart to put the NSA's surveillance in a context that people understand

      If HBO are so bloody marvellous why do they restrict their YouTube feed by region?

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: Its smart to put the NSA's surveillance in a context that people understand

        Is "Last Week Tonight" carried on any British networks? If so, that's why HBO is throttling the YouTube broadcast.

        1. Cliff

          Re: Its smart to put the NSA's surveillance in a context that people understand

          Apparently Sky have UK rights.

          Mildly ironic that it's owned by Fox's owner.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Its smart to put the NSA's surveillance in a context that people understand

        I watched it via the Guardian Article in Central Europe, no problem.

    2. Keven E.

      Re: Its smart to put the NSA's surveillance in a context that people understand

      "Also, kudos to HBO for producing so much good original programming. This Sunday they start the new seasons of Game of Thrones, Veep and Silicon Valley on the same day and run the seasons concurrently. If those shows... "

      There's your problem, right there... your second paragraph. That's how quickly the attention changes from understanding and core concerns to patting someone on the back for what's on telly. The later gets 1/3rd again the attention, and if you look at the news 2/3rds of that are stories about so-called entertainment. Supply side economics driven, of course.

      I challenge that his interviews weren't cherry picked... let alone his interviewees.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: Its smart to put the NSA's surveillance in a context that people understand

        Well, we don't live by constant barrages of serious news, and the stuff on hbo is generally more thought-provoking than dramas or comedies you will see elsewhere.

        For example, I haven't seen any other network note present the "how do you feel about Edward Snowden" vs. "How do you feel about the government intercepting your intimate communications" dichotomy very well.

    3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Marketing Hack Re: Its smart to put the NSA's surveillance in a context that people understand

      "....Putting the issue in terms of whether the government should have the right to intercept intimate pictures that are sent between lovers and spouses boils the issue down to its core privacy principles....." No it doesn't because it makes the false assumption the NSA et al are even vaguely interested in the majority, let alone have the capability to do so. They simply don't have the resources to stare at every nudie/sext even if they wanted to, so the whole claim is just more of the typical Snowjoke manure.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: Marketing Hack Its smart to put the NSA's surveillance in a context that people understand

        @Matt Bryant

        I'm quite confident that the NSA/Five Eyes don't have the eyeballs needed to check out everyone's boudoir photography. However, my argument is that the NSA shouldn't be staring at ANY adult communications that don't represent a genuine threat to national securityand shouldn't even have the ability to do that.

        However, it seems that there is at least a subculture in the SigInt agencies that views checking out hot pics or exs or potential new romantic partners a perk of employment.

        And then there is the very broad definition of intelligence targets that has the Five Eyes looking at people who express an interest in encryption, readers of innocuous publications like Linux Journal, members of various civil liberties organizations and legal MBPs, attorney/client communications and so on.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Marketing Hack Its smart to put the NSA's surveillance in a context....

          "I'm quite confident that the NSA/Five Eyes don't have the eyeballs needed to check out everyone's boudoir photography...." So, in your desperate backpeddling, you're admitting you were talking male genitals in suggesting it, as well as Snowjoke in pushing the idea in the first place.

          "......my argument is that the NSA shouldn't be staring at ANY adult communications that don't represent a genuine threat to national security......" They don't stare at any communication unless it is flagged by automatic systems, so again you are talking just more bollocks by claiming the NSA are just willy-nilly checking conversations at random. Were you paying any attention when Snowjoke was describing how the NSA works on metadata and filtering before anything actually gets read by a human? Fail!

          1. Vimes

            Re: Marketing Hack Its smart to put the NSA's surveillance in a context....

            They don't stare at any communication unless it is flagged by automatic systems

            So all those stories of using stuff like XKEYSCORE being abused to look up stuff on loved ones is just our imagination?

            http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/27/politics/nsa-snooping/

      2. Alfred

        Re: Marketing Hack Its smart to put the NSA's surveillance in a context that people understand

        They are interested. Maybe not today. Today you're just some punk kid they don't give a damn about. In ten years time, however, you may be someone of interest and they can dig up everything you did online when you were young and stupid and use it to, for example, destroy your political career, or blackmail you, or embarrass you, or destroy your marriage, and so on and so on.

      3. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        What a relief"

        Thank you so much Mr Nsaovitch. You have put my heart at rest at last.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What fools

    Snowden sure proves what gullible fools hacks can be.

  4. Christoph Silver badge

    Try here for the video.

  5. rob miller

    too late

    statue already removed.

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: too late

      Let me guess--the Feds replaced it with a James Clapper d##k pic?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Joke

        Re: too late

        @ Marketing Hack

        I believe they are replacing it with a statue of Nixon.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: too late

          I believe they are replacing it with a statue of Nixon.

          Funny you should say that!

          Last night I watched 'All the Presidents Men' for the first time in - well, in a long time. Since long before I first went on the internet. Weird in it's own way: I found myself sub-consciously looking for PCs. The people in the newsroom typing on typewriters! Woodward making a call from a pay phone and dialing the number!

          What almost made me exhale in surprise was near the end when deep throat says that the FBI, CIA etc knew it all but did nothing because it wasn't simply about Nixon's White House burgling the Democrat offices but the illegal practices of the entire US Intelligence community, and that it had been going on for years, and I thought 'it never stopped, did it'. Watergate didn't stop it, the impeachment and resignation of the US President didn't stop it.

          Meanwhile the Last Week Tonight torrent just completed...

    2. Keven E.

      Re: too late

      http://mashable.com/2015/04/07/edward-snowden-hologram-statue-brooklyn/?utm_cid=mash-com-Tw-main-link

  6. Richard Lloyd

    YouTube video link no use for UK readers

    Not great to link to a YouTube video that UK readers can't watch (well, without using block bypassing methods). Maybe a "(US only)" suffix would have been nice?

    Sky Atlantic in the UK airs the show a day after the US, but since that's part of a ludicrously overpriced Sky package, it's a no-go area too.

    I just get my weekly John Oliver fix via the letter "T", but don't forget he does the occasional (and not US-only) YouTube-only shorts as well.

    1. Don Dumb
      Thumb Up

      Re: YouTube video link no use for UK readers

      @Richard Lloyd - I just get my weekly John Oliver fix via the letter "T",

      If you are not already aware John is one half of the superb cross-atlantic satire and bullshit podcast 'The Bugle'. Certainly worth listening to, especially as it gives clues on why John would have used dick pics to underline his point.

  7. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    "NYPD"

    Good one.

  8. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Ironic that the comments section of an article about the phenomena of Snowden's name being unrecognized by those he claims to be trying to help is taken up with complaints about the movie clip.

    It's like they don't know who Snowden is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah!

      Hey, we're not stupid!

      Who could forget a snowman like that...! :p

  9. moiety Silver badge

    I doff my hat

    ...to both Edward Snowden and John Oliver.

  10. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Very sad....

    I find it very sad of affairs that those interviewed had no clue about who Snowden is. I do wonder if that was a random sampling or were the ones who knew who Snowden is tossed out? But I digress. It's not like this hasn't been in the news. I guess most folks are so wrapped up in themselves, everything else in the country and the world doesn't exist.

    I know there's the "Me" generation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_generation) that's raised kids and have a pretty good idea that they'll turn out like their parents. It just seems appalling that no one gave a crap until "selfies" were mentioned. It's beyond disheartening to watch this country go to hell in a handbasket and all anyone would think about is "is there dinner served on this trip?"

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Very sad....

      Der legendäre Kleine Mann

      Der immer litt und nie gewann

      Der sich gewöhnt an jeden Dreck

      Kriegt er nur seinen Schweinespeck

      Und träumt im Bett vom Attentat

      - die hab ich satt!

      Wolf Biermann, for those who understand German

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Very sad....

        Google Translation:

        The legendary Little Man

        The ever suffered and never won

        The accustomed to any muck

        He gets only his bacon

        And dreaming in bed of the assassination

        - I am bored !

        1. Yugguy

          Re: Very sad....

          That's the shittest limerick I have ever seen.

          1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

            About sad....

            There was once a man of low station that suffered from Google Translation

            What ever he done never got won.

            Except Register assassination

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    So, the conclusion is ..

    .. that the public is mostly concerned about dick pic programs.

    Shocking reduction of focus :(

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: So, the conclusion is ..

      For those who don't know US Law... there was a SCOTUS case Griswold vs State of Connecticut (1965)

      That might explain why people want their privates private.

    2. Cliff

      Re: So, the conclusion is ..

      Personally, I thought the interview was clumsily handled and John Oliver did himself no favours with his playing to 'the Russians are gonna get me' cold war gags. Normally very fond of his shows, this one not so much. Grousing about flying Business to Moscow, FSA gags, 'known associate' (Russia are hosting the guy himself, they aren't chasing known associates, makes no sense, and the US agencies who would care will already be aware of a TV comedian, and probably not give a crap)

      That aside, you know the way birds and animals can count upto a few objects before they become overwhelmed and the next number is 'many'? This is pretty much the same thing, people understand people-scale problems. Reducing it to dick-pics is disingenuous in many ways, BUT may get people to at least talk about and consider the issues a little - something they're not currently doing.

      Shame, this could have been a great report/episode, but was actually a poor, clumsy, awkward one. Oliver seemed lumpy and puerile without his studio support of writers and researchers, which is a shame as he's clearly talented and has an attractive show model. Brummies, though, eh?

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: So, the conclusion is ..

        Uh, it's the USA that will have put Oliver on the "known associate" list, mate.

      2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: So, the conclusion is ..

        Personally, I thought the interview was clumsily handled and John Oliver did himself no favours with his playing to 'the Russians are gonna get me' cold war gags. Normally very fond of his shows, this one not so much.

        To be honest, that's what I originally thought too, but I have changed my mind (took a fresh one from the freezer etc etc). I'm the first to agree the interview was far from perfect and I am frankly still stumped to find a real focus point in the whole duration, but it did one thing that nobody else has bothered with: it started to address the "so what?" factor for Joe Public.

        The topic privacy has been made very, very complicated, not exactly helped by technical people slinging jargon at it as if that improves the quality of their warez. As with the finance industry, I am reaching the conclusion that that complexity is not by accident. People eventually go numb, even if the topic at hand has the potential to negatively affect their lives, and I have spoken with various journalists who have detected a sort of "Snowden fatigue", not helped by the fact that the average tabloid reader (of which there are many) has been trained to have the attention span of a mosquito on acid.

        The mechanism was IMHO very crude (but that may be me being old fashioned) but what he did was strip out all the BS, all the stuff that plays peripherally but distracts, and make it real for people without going completely into "think of the children" pictures-of-your-teenage-daughter mode - also because it would otherwise lose its audience (it's still comedy, albeit with a more realistic edge). Sometimes, knowing too much doesn't help getting the message across.

        The result was that, on reflection, the interview has more value than I originally picked up, because the current problem with privacy (as amply demonstrated by the interviewees, selective or not) is that the majority of people are not really aware of what is happening and what the consequences are, and even in a pretend democracy, the "majority of people" means the majority vote (it saves having to rig the voting system with all the risks inherent, but e-voting discussions are for another day).

        Was this a good interview? No, it was only moderately entertaining, but for a first attempt at bringing something down to a level for mass consumption I do think it worked - now this approach needs refining (and maybe a bit less crude). Privacy matters, but the collective *we* (of which I deem myself part after enough coffee) need to find more tools to communicate exactly WHY. In that context, I liked the interview.

        1. Cliff

          Re: So, the conclusion is ..

          @Fred,

          I think I just felt a little let down as I hoped for better. He (and his producers and researchers and writers) is clearly very capable, evidenced by well-constructed programmes that manage to be both entertaining and cutting.

          The jumping at shadows business, though, undermined the interview message. The petulant 'I flew in comfort for 10 hours to spend 2 days somewhere for my interviewee (who is a guest of the Russian government and therefore extremely likely to be briefed/driven to the hotel/whatever by them) to be 40 minutes late' just seemed, well, bizarre. Real people fly real places for interviews or jobs frequently. Len blinkin' Goodman flies from London to USA weekly for Strictly Come Dancing/With the Stars, and he's an old boy dance judge on a light entertainment show, not a comedy journalist.

          People living in Moscow, London, New York, wherever are subject to the vagueries of traffic, tube, other things. I've waited longer than that for 'showbiz' interviews with someone in the same building. If Snowden hadn't been able to make it at any point within those 2 days, it would have been impolite, but not earth-shattering either. Making a fuss about it plays to anti-Russian sentiment for sure at a time when Putin is posturing and making people uncomfortable - why go for cheap redneck populist shots like that when you're trying to do a story about something far more important? It was just clumsy and, well, bizarre.

  12. Winkypop Silver badge
    Coat

    The NSA are a bunch of dicks

    You know, detectives...

  13. OzBob

    And the followup question should have been

    "Someone sent your 13 year old dick pics, and they only did it once so we can't catch them doing it again"

    And therefore is the dilemma of the 21st century - who decides who is bad enough to be monitored, and when do they become bad enough?

    1. Lusty

      Re: And the followup question should have been

      @OzBob, the answer in your example is that the parent is the bad one who needs to be monitored. Perverts don't just randomly email pictures to random email addresses, the 13YO would have to be somewhere for this to happen, and what happens next is down to education and good parenting. I would be unconcerned at a 13YO seeing nudity of any gender since nudity is natural. I would be incredibly concerned if they continued talking to a stranger who sent them such pictures unsolicited in an unrelated forum. It is not the job of the state to protect and educate your children from things like this and it's demonstrably unfeasible for them to do so without massive privacy invasion which, to me at least, is less acceptable than preventing the crimes. Pre-crime never works.

      1. OzBob

        Re: And the followup question should have been

        Way to murder the metaphor. I wish I had such determination not to be educated, the world would seem much simpler and less scary.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And the followup question should have been

          You seem to be doing just fine on the lack of education front Bob, no need for determination. If, however, you feel like becoming educated I'd start your research on what happens when the state tries to control the population. It has literally never worked, even with something as simple as prohibition. The population overall will often ask for protection initially and then crave freedom as soon as it's removed before overthrowing the system one way or another. Speed cameras are a good example, as are wheel clamps, both of which seem like a great idea to "stop those other idiots". As soon as comprehensive methods exist to enforce the law, everyone suddenly realises all the ways that they themselves break those rules.

          You can't have it both ways, but if you have to choose, choose freedom every time.

  14. Hans 1 Silver badge

    Honey Trap

    Get a teen so send himself a picky of his privates, then go after GHCQ/NSA for pedophilia.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Honey Trap

      Incitement is an offence in England.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. dogged

          Re: Honey Trap

          Or a journalist dressed up as a sheikh.

        2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

          Re: Honey Trap

          "unless you're a policeman or an MP"

          FTFY

  15. Dr_N Silver badge

    Last Week Tonight on You Tube

    For some reason official LWT YouTube clips aren't available in the UK when first posted.

    Access is allowed a couple of weeks later. (Why?!)

    Works fine in France.

    A cracking show and a real scoop for Mr Oliver.

    1. dogged

      Re: Last Week Tonight on You Tube

      London Weekend Television?!?

      1. Yugguy

        Re: Last Week Tonight on You Tube

        That's what I thought! Bah, showing me age there.

        1. dogged

          Re: Last Week Tonight on You Tube

          da da da da DAA da-da-daaa

          (which my head still internally sings as "now it's time for Morecambe and Wise")

  16. Slx

    Clip works fine in Ireland oddly enough, despite Sky's large presence here, someone mustn't own the rights.

  17. TheProf Silver badge
    Devil

    Call the police there's a madman around.

    "NYPD are investigating the unauthorized installation of the statue. "

    I wonder how squad cars they sent to this heinous incident. I'd hazard a guess of 6 but if anyone does know please share the information.

    Thanks

  18. Alien8n Silver badge
    Coat

    NYPD

    Amazed no one else has spotted the obvious joke about the NYPD being upset about Snowden's huge erection.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't blame the NSA....

    * They're just soldiers doing what they're told. Instead, blame those in the shadows behind the global spying apparatus. In reality, what does the NSA do all day? Right now, they've been tasked with spying on opposition members of the TTIP :-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transatlantic_Trade_and_Investment_Partnership

    * The fact most Americans don't know this is horrific, but understandable in a twisted Romanesque way. The NSA merely exists to serve the needs of the few, namely the elite. Its a plaything for the strong to exploit the weak for control & profit. Watch Citizenfour (2014), read TIPP, its all laid bare :-

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4044364/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

    * If spying had anything to do with public safety, it would be used to solve crime. After all that's where most American deaths actually occur, and where Americans really are in danger statistically.

    * The intelligence services constant overuse of the 'T' word to justify their existence, is akin to a religious mantra, not unlike that of those they claim to be hunting.

  20. Oninoshiko

    Take dick pictures, label them "potential bomb targets"

    harass the terrorists and the spooks in one fell swoop.

  21. JaitcH
    Happy

    Interview reduces dangers to commonly understood terms

    John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight, started the piece by interviewing randomly selected volunteers in Times Square, NYC. True to form many of these Americans, particularly the younger ones, showed their ignorance in current affairs.

    By going from esoteric terms such as 'metadata' to dicks (or selfies) John Oliver managed to speak to the less well informed in their own terms. Most youngsters know what a selfie is, and most didn't want their genitalia seized by Uncle Sam.

    Good for you, John Oliver, on simplifying this obviously confusing subject, in very un-American terms, which is why, I guess, his show is so popular.

    1. Keven E.

      Comedy doesn't specifically trivialize, but...

      "...interviewing randomly selected volunteers..."

      Bullshit.

      It's not even the proverbial case of "proving it with statistics", it's barely even describing it.

  22. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    Hot Pockets

    >Snowden said he did want to come back, as he missed hot pockets – which is somewhat bizarre considering how foul they are.

    "And then you bit into them, and learned once again that Cut-me-own-Throat Dibbler could find a use for bits of an animal that the animal didn't know it had got."

    The NSA/CIA/FBI has worked out that with enough fried onions and mustard, people would swallow anything.

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