Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, personality-wise, was the yin to Steve Jobs yang, and the effervescent and jovial Woz is typically an entertaining fellow, always good for a fresh perspective on mobile devices or other technology.
Not so the other day in the airport. FayerWayerTV snagged some one-on-one time with Woz as he was waiting for his flight, and the topic of conversation turned to the NSA’s PRISM spying program as well as cloud services.
Woz teed off on the NSA by comparing its spying on the American public as akin to communist Russia. “Communist Russia was so bad because they followed their people, they snooped on them, they arrested them, they put them in secret prisons, they disappeared them. These kind of things were part of Russia. You know, we’re getting more and more like that,” he said.
He also likened cloud services to the same lack of ownership that marked Russia under communist rule, saying that “In the digital world, you can hardly
own anything anymore.” He noted that you don’t own anything you put in
the cloud, which is true; it all rests on some company’s servers
somewhere, and we’re merely allowed to access it. “When we grew up,
ownership was what made America different than Russia,” he added.
It’s rather jarring to hear a guy like Woz paint such a dark picture of the United States, as well as the current state of technology, but it’s hard to argue with his assessment. Are there really CIA workers sitting in front of terminals that can dial up information on anyone? Are most of the major tech companies in the world giving away our information to the government? Has Microsoft been letting the government have access to recorded Skype VoIP streams?
Isn’t it troubling that we even have to ask these awful questions?