On Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver traveled to Russia to interview Edward Snowden, the former NSA employee who leaked classified documents about the government’s surveillance programs to the media.
Oliver opened the show by discussing how Congress has to decide on June 1 if they are going to reauthorize the Patriot Act, which authorizes many of the laws which essentially allow the government to spy on American citizens.
Under Section 215, Oliver pointed out, the government can require businesses to give them records of “any tangible things, including books, records, papers, documents and other items.”
“If that sounds broad,” he said, “it’s because it was very much written that way … the government can ask for ‘any tangible things’ so long as it’s for an investigation to protect against international terrorism, which is basically a blank check.”
Oliver also noted that almost half of Americans aren’t really that concerned with the government’s wide-reaching surveillance, which shocked him. Americans were far more upset when they were confronted with the idea that the government accessed their private naked photos.
He showed footage of people reacting to the idea of the government looking at their naked pictures to Snowden during their interview, pitching the idea that Snowden focus on the “dick pic” aspect of the government’s surveillance programs.
“Well, the good news is there’s no program named ‘The Dick Pic Program,’” said Snowden. “The bad news is [the government] is still collecting everybody’s information — including your dick pics.”
Snowden then explained how the NSA could access those photos if someone emailed them using Gmail.
“When you send your junk through Gmail, that’s stored on Google’s servers. Google moves data from data center to data center—invisibly to you without your knowledge—your data could be moved outside the borders of the United States, temporarily. When your junk was passed by Gmail, the NSA caught a copy of that… PRISM is how they pull your junk out of Google with Google’s involvement.”
“I guess I never thought about putting it in the context of your junk,” he added.
Watch the full segment from Last Week Tonight.