John Oliver Asks: Is The NSA Collecting Your Naked Pictures?

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
John Oliver has made it his show's business to make complicated and sometimes dry subjects hilarious and interesting. Last night, he gave NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden the Last Week Tonight treatment, and it turned out to be one of the best TV reports on government surveillance out there. 

Oliver traveled all the way to Moscow to interview Snowden, and once Snowden arrived — more than an hour late — they talked about the details of many government programs using a rhetorical everyone can relate to: Can the Government collect our naked pictures? (Hear what people  on the street have to say about the question at around the clip's 25 minute mark.)

“The good news is there is no program named ‘The Dick Pic program,” Snowden said. "The bad news is they are still collecting everyone's information, including your dick pics."

And, it turns out, there are a lot of programs that would make it possible for those pictures to end up in an NSA database.

When it came to the U.S. Government's efforts dealing with foreign countries and citizens, Oliver was blunt about exactly how much its spying programs matter day to day.

“No one gives a shit about foreign surveillance,” Oliver said.“I think you’re right,” Snowden agreed. Whether this interview will change that remains to be seen.
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Of course, after countless hacking efforts that have exposed the private photos of dozens of celebrities and a steady stream of news stories about security breaches at banks, major retailers, and health insurance companies, we're much more aware of how vulnerable information is online. But almost two years after Snowden's first revelations, we're still arguing over how to keep our personal data safe, and even how worried we are about it.

The PATRIOT Act, the law that allows the controversial spying programs to continue, is set to expire on June 1.


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