Survey: Many people have never heard of Edward Snowden -- but the ones who have actually care about his disclosures
It sometimes seems like everyone in the world must have heard of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked documents about National Security Agency surveillance programs in 2013. But a new survey suggests that many people around the globe haven't heard his name.
The survey was conducted by the Ipsos global research company and published by the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) on November 24. It gathered responses from 23,376 Internet users from 24 countries on several continents between October and November.
The survey states that only 60 percent of respondents had heard of Snowden. The numbers vary based on their country of residence: Germans took first place with 94 percent of respondents saying they heard of Snowden; Kenya took last place with just 14 percent of respondents saying the same. 76 percent of respondents living in the United States knew of the whistleblower.
It's sad that nearly a quarter of US residents haven't heard about Snowden -- and, presumably, his revelations -- over a year after the Guardian published the first story on the NSA's spying. There's precious little hope for surveillance reform as it is; knowing that so many people don't really care about their government's actions could snuff that little flicker of hope right out.
But there is some good news: many of the people who have heard of Snowden and the programs he revealed have taken steps to improve their digital security. That also varies based on the respondents' country, with Germany once again leading the pack, but on average some 39 percent of those surveyed said they've at least tried to secure their private communications.
It would obviously be preferable for 100 percent of respondents to have said that they are working to secure their digital activities, but more than half of the people who have heard of the NSA's surveillance programs doing something with that knowledge isn't bad. Technical answers to government snooping aren't as effective as political ones, but at least they're something.
So if there's anything to take away from the survey it's that the media's continued coverage of surveillance programs is warranted; that people really do want to secure their communications; and that there really are many, many people who care about this worldwide controversy.
[illustration by Brad Jonas]