Privacy advocate and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak considers NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be a "total hero" and laments a missed opportunity to build more privacy protections into modern computer operating systems, according to a recent interview.
Asked about Snowden in an interview with the Middle East technology website ITP.net published late last week, "Woz" said: "Total hero to me; total hero. Not necessarily [for] what he exposed, but the fact that he internally came from his own heart, his own belief in the United States Constitution, what democracy and freedom was about. And now a federal judge has said that NSA data collection was unconstitutional."
Regarding today's privacy protections—or lack thereof—the inventor, engineer, and programmer, who designed both the Apple I and Apple II computers in the late 1970s, is unimpressed.
"It's almost impossible [to protect yourself] because today's operating systems generally get so huge that they can only come from a few sources, like Microsoft, Google and Apple," he said. "And those operating systems have so many millions of lines of code in them, built by tens of thousands of engineers over time, that it's so difficult to go back and detect anything in it that's spying on you. It's like having a house with 50,000 doors and windows and you have no idea where there might be a tiny little camera."
"It's almost like you can't have any secrets anymore," he added. "And the modern generation just accepts this as the status quo."
Wozniak, known to many by his nickname Woz, also lashed out at mega-corporations like Google and Facebook, which he said "are trying to make money off knowing things about you."
As Yoni Heisler notes for the tech website BGR, "Woz’s own views on digital privacy are particularly intriguing because Woz’s own work on the Apple I and Apple II helped kickstart the personal computing revolution, helping to establish the framework for the connected world we live in today."
During the interview, conducted during an international tech conference in Dubai, U.A.E., Wozniak also claimed the U.S. would look like Dubai—a city known for infrastructure spending, ultra-modern architecture, and lavish wealth—if it pursued different spending priorities.
"Everything is first-class," he said of Dubai. "The United States used to talk, when I was growing up, like that's what we were. The U.S. would look like this if we didn't spend all our money on the military."