As president-elect Donald Trump prepares to occupy the oval office, ‘fearful’ national security officials are bracing for a major shift in US policy and are raising concerns that the current US surveillance system is “ripe for rampant abuse under an autocratic, power-obsessed president.”
Privacy activists, human rights activists, and former US security officials have also expressed fears over the prospect of Donald Trump gaining access to the vast global surveillance network.
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, according to The Guardian.
In a video link-up from Moscow with a Netherlands-based tech company on Thursday, Snowden 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.
Privacy experts believe a Trump presidency will tip the balance between surveillance and privacy decisively towards the former. On the campaign trail, Trump made an ambiguous remark about wishing he had access to surveillance powers.
“I wish I had that power,” he said while talking about the hack of Democratic National Committee emails. “Man, that would be power.”
Trump also mooted a string of controversial measures, any one of which would signify a major shift in US policy: reviving the use of torture, targeting the families of terrorism suspects, mass deportations, a ban on Muslims entering the US, expanding domestic surveillance, the indefinite detention of American terror suspects, bombing “the shit” out of the Islamic State.
Officials in the US military, NSA, diplomatic corps and federal law enforcement have told the Guardian that Trump’s suggestions represent such a departure from the norms of American governance that they are contemplating internal resistance or a career change.