Privacy activists, human rights campaigners and former US security officials have expressed fears over the prospect of Donald Trump controlling the vast global US and UK surveillance network.
They criticized Barack Obama’s administration for being too complacent after the 2013 revelations by the NSA whistle-blower, Edward Snowden, and making only modest concessions to privacy concerns rather than carrying out major legislative changes.
The concern comes after Snowden dismissed fears for his safety if Trump, who called him “a spy who has caused great damage in the US”, was to strike a deal with Vladimir Putin to have him extradited.
Snowden, in a video link-up from Moscow with a Netherlands-based tech company on Thursday, said it would be “crazy to dismiss” the prospect of Trump doing a deal but if personal safety was a major concern for him, he would not have leaked the top-secret documents in the first place.
Snowden, wanted by the US on charges under the Espionage Act, found asylum in Russia in 2013 but his visa is due to expire in July.
Privacy and human rights campaigners in the US and UK say a Trump presidency will tip the balance between surveillance and privacy decisively towards the former. The UK surveillance agency GCHQ is so tied up with America’s NSA, often doing work on its behalf, it could find itself facing a series of ethical dilemmas.