Edward Snowden to discuss global surveillance at Queen’s Model UN

NSA whistleblower will videoconference at student event on Thursday

Snowden at TED2014
Edward Snowden — who will be videoconferencing with Queen's students this Thursday — spoke with Chris Anderson and Tim Berners Lee from a secret location in Russia for TED2014.
Supplied by Steve Jurvetson via Wikimedia Commons

Edward Snowden — the former NSA contractor considered a hero by some and a traitor by others — is speaking at a Queen’s event this Thursday via Skype. 

Starting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12, in Grant Hall, Snowden will be videoconferencing as the keynote speaker for this year’s Queen’s Model United Nations Invitational (QMUNi).

The Queens International Affairs Association (QIAA) — an undergraduate student-run foreign affairs initiative — is hosting the annual conference.

“We thought that Edward Snowden really represents what we wanted to get at [QMUNi] and that’s like engaging in these high level debates, and diplomacy with issues that you may not be familiar with,” QIAA President Lauren Craik, ArtSci ’17, said.

Edward Snowden is an American ex-National Security Agency (NSA) contracted employee who was the whistleblower in one of the largest intelligence leaks in history. In 2013, Snowden leaked countless NSA documents to select journalists to disseminate to the public.

As a result, he left the US as a refugee to seek asylum in Russia, where he currently resides.

In 2014 Snowden appeared by telepresence robot, at TED2014 to talk about surveillance and internet freedom.

Since then Snowden has continued to make make headlines, most recently causing global excitement when he officially joined Twitter under the handle @Snowden.

“Right now, this is even more topical because of the recent Canadian election,” Jeremy Rogers, QIAA speakers series director, said.

“Justin Trudeau has indicated that he would be interested in doing reforms over Bill C-51 — the controversial government surveillance bill — and we feel that having sort of citizen engagement and education would be incredibly helpful at present,” Rogers, ArtSci ’17, said.

The QMUNi conference attracts 250 delegates from Queen’s and 15 other universities across North America. Delegates will participate in Model UN for four days over the weekend, acting as representatives from various countries to solve international crises thrown at them by the conference directors.

QIAA, one of the largest and oldest student-run initiatives on campus, began as a simulation for Model United Nations discussions. Today, the organization hosts two large conferences a year, distributes a quarterly publication and runs a bi-weekly radio show on CFRC.

The talk, titled Surveillance After Snowden, is named after a book published recently by David Lyon, director of the Surveillance Studies Center at Queen’s. Lyon will also be moderating the event’s question period.

The event is open for all students to attend and will also be streamed live by Studio Q.

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