While working for US intelligence agencies, Edward Snowden had another secret identity: an online commentator who anonymously railed against citizen surveillance and corporate greed.
Snowden was outspoken against citizen surveillance and corporate greed on forums
He was also a prolific commentator on technology forum Ars Technica, posting approximately 750 messages using the screen name 'The True HOOHA' from late 2001 to 2012. Most of the postings were not political in nature: he dispensed advice about government careers, polygraphs and the 2008 stock market crash. He claimed to own the same gun as James Bond and posted glamour photos of himself. He jokingly compared the video console Xbox Live to NSA surveillance.
One of his postings, however, dealt with the now familiar issue of corporate compliance with government eavesdropping programs. On February 4, 2010, while working for Dell, Snowden commented on a discussion about a major technology company that allegedly was giving the U.S. government access to its computer servers.
"It really concerns me how little this sort of corporate behavior bothers those outside of technology circles," Snowden wrote. "Society really seems to have developed an unquestioning obedience towards spooky types." It is not clear if his former employers knew about his online persona. The CIA, NSA, Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton - which most recently employed Snowden - declined to comment.
Born in 1983 in North Carolina, Snowden grew up in a Maryland suburb near the NSA headquarters. He left high school in 10th grade and later earned a G.E.D. At 18, he worked as a webmaster for Ryuhana Press, a start-up promoting Japanese anime artists. Snowden began posting on Ars Technica on December 29, 2001. He sought technical help for his work at the anime site and a website company called Clockwork Chihuahua. As early as 2002, Snowden wrote online of his desire to work in Japan: "It is pretty far-fetched, but I've always dreamed of being able to make it in Japan."
An avid gamer, he posted on the ethics of video game piracy in 2003: "I feel the megacorporation is promoting hyper-materialism and I don't like that. That means I want to punish the company in any way I can."
"Legality does not factor into this, getting away with it (OMG dispensing justice LOL!) in order to do it again does," Snowden added. "If my actions contribute to driving the corporation I view as "evil" into the ground, I'll sleep easier at night knowing I have (in my mind) done society a service."
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