Case #2018.1

Hero or Traitor? Edward Snowden and the NSA Spying Program (Sequel)

Publication Date: June 22, 2016
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This sequel accompanies HKS Case Number 2018.0. On June 5, 2013, a London newspaper reported that the United States National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers in the U.S. The story was the first of many top secret revelations about the NSA's spying programs, leaked by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor. The case examines Snowden's actions and motivations and asks students to consider the repercussions of whistleblowing/leaking on the general public, the U.S. government, the NSA and Snowden himself.

Learning Objective:
By examining Snowden's motives as well as the repercussions of his actions, students can employ moral reasoning to evaluate Snowden's acts and consider how they themselves might act when confronted with an ethical dilemma. The case allows students to consider the conditions of justification and one's obligations to take ethically sound action.

Other Details

Teaching Plan:
Available with Educator Access
Case Author:
Laura Winig
Faculty Lead:
Christopher Robichaud
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
Joseph B. Tompkins, Jr. Fund for Case Study and Research