Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who has leaked thousands of classified documents on domestic spying to the press, gave his first U.S. television interview to NBC's Brian Williams Wednesday. He defended his actions, and indicated breaking the law is necessary for the greater good.
Jason Nye, a former State Department intelligence official now living in Seattle, called Snowden "an ego-driven person looking for attention.
"He's on one hand a whistleblower," continued Nye, "On the other hand, he's done crimes here to the U.S."
Nye was involved in managing data collection for the State Department, working with spying agencies around the world. He was not involved in counterterrorism.
While Nye believed Snowden's revelations open an important conversation about domestic surveillance, he is concerned information not yet leaked could be given to the Russian government currently giving him asylum.
"Every other country in the world would be very interested to know how the U.S. guards its information and gathers its information abroad," he suggested.
Dr. Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, director of the University of Washington's Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity, indicated Snowden's actions mark a key moment for how we use the internet.
"The lesson I take from it is how easy it is for a single person to create huge impact," Endicott-Popovsky said, "This kind of an episode only causes people to think through what they're doing online."
She said it's important for users to treat their smart devices as links to other users, "not utilities", and Snowden jumpstarts that conversation.
"I just always assumed that this kind of surveillance was happening because it would have surprised me if it wasn't," she said.