Permanent Record Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Permanent Record delves into the life story of Edward Snowden, the well-renowned national whistleblower who built the exposé on STELLARWIND, the US mass surveillance program used to spy on American citizens.

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To some people, Edward Snowden is synonymous with a hero or whistleblower. To others, he is the impersonation of a national traitor. Permanent Record tells the story of the man who shook an entire country with a groundbreaking exposé. After reading this summary, it’s up to you to decide which one suits him best. 

Snowden has a heart for justice and a mind for technology, and when these two merge in the face of mass unrighteous practices, what follows is a national scandal, a hacker looking for asylum, and the exposure of a broken system. 

Here are the top three lessons from the book:

  1. Faced with the implications of STELLARWIND, the national surveillance program, Snowden felt the need to expose the mad system.
  2. Snowden risked his life by exposing this national secret, and it was the toughest journey he’s ever had to go through.
  3. Snowden’s life changed drastically after the exposure, and it never came back to normal.

Let’s delve into these lessons and learn more about the most famous national whistleblower!

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Lesson 1: Snowden realized that STELLARWIND was far from being just a national safety program.

It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Fortunately for us, Edward Snowden was the one to stop this train from reaching its destination. Rather than taking part in a mass monitoring program similar to the one used in China, Snowden chose to expose the unconstitutional practices of the US government.  

STELLARWIND was the name of the national surveillance program that the US created to monitor its citizens after the horrific day of 9/11. On paper, the program aimed to improve national security. In practice, it was intrusive and unconstitutional, as it was used to spy on individuals in detail.

From your daily schedule to your browser history, government employees with access to this data could monitor you as they pleased. As if this practice wasn’t intrusive enough, Snowden claims to have seen fellow colleagues spying on their loved ones out of jealousy under false security pretenses. 

If you too feel enranged, it’s because you should. The American constitution is built on the premise of numerous rights, including the one for privacy. So, now that you know that, what does it mean to Edward Snowden? Let’s see!

Lesson 2: Snowden’s exposé was a tough journey to go through, and it ended with him in Moscow.

Snowden had a passion for technology, the internet, and ways to hack it since childhood. It was a no-brainer for him that this is the path he was going to pursue. His parents were both employed in the public sphere, having jobs secretive in nature. 

After 9/11, he felt the urge to serve his country and help improve national security. He enrolled in the army, but after a broken ankle and a few short months of service, he realized that everyone would be better off with him in a tech-focused position. 

NSA needed staff, so he managed to advance quickly in his career. After attending a conference in China, he learned how other countries were spying on their citizens. Needless to say, he thought that his own might do the same. A little bit of digging later, he came across the STELLARWIND program.

He tried to let it go, but something inside him was telling him that it isn’t fair for the citizens. He teamed up with a documentarian and a civil liberties lawyer. Leaking the data was the toughest part of the job. He had to use multiple undetectable devices and lie to his colleagues on a daily basis. 

When he managed to compile the data, the team exposed it through The Guardian news outlet. He then looked for asylum while dealing with US’s accusations. On his way to Ecuador, he was stopped in Moscow, where he spent 40 nights in the airport before receiving asylum in Russia. That is where he and his wife reside to this day.

Lesson 3: The exposure operation took a toll on Snowden’s life and changed its course.

Snowden cannot travel outside of Russia without fear of arrest and extradition, so he has been unable to see his family in person since 2013. 

Snowden said that he would like to return home someday if he could be guaranteed a fair trial and would not face the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole.

He was joined by his wife, but he misses the US deeply. He has been working with journalists and researchers to expose more NSA spy programs. Snowden also wants to make the world a better place by exposing government surveillance programs, which are against citizens’ rights and privacy.

In 2015, he got a job with Russia Today, where he lives now with his wife Lindsay Mills. He is also helping to develop software for encrypted messaging that will allow people to send messages privately without any interference from third parties.

Permanent Record Review

Permanent Record is a remarkable real-life story about the life and experiences of Edward Snowden, which will ignite feelings of righteousness and justice in every reader’s heart. 

The book takes us on a spin of events, from the beginning of Snowden’s passion for hacking to his adventurous job at the NSA and finally the moments that led to his life-altering decision to expose his own government. 

Reading this book will give you chills as your moral compass awakens in the light of Snowden’s journey. This lecture is truly a riveting read and a life lesson for every one of us.

Who would I recommend the Permanent Record summary to?

The 24-year-old concerned citizen who wants to know more about what happens with their online data, the 45-year-old public service employee who is facing a moral decision to make at their job, or the 35-year-old person interested in online security and data processing.

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Maria Deac

While working with my friend Ovi's company SocialBee, I had the good fortune of Maria writing over 200 summaries for us over the course of 18 months. Maria is a professional SEO copywriter, content writer, and social media marketing specialist. When she's not writing or learning more about marketing, she loves to dance and travel all over the world.