#Compliance: The Edward Snowden, NSA program controversy continues

Opinions abound regarding Edward Snowden and his leak of a secret NSA surveillance program, as U.S. officials increase efforts to extradite him.

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The National Security Agency's PRISM program remains the hot international topic du jour. Earlier this month, a former NSA contractor leaked information that the agency collects records of telephone calls within the U.S. and monitors the Internet activity of overseas residents. The controversy over whether national security concerns take precedence over online privacy was put on the back burner, however, as the world has become enthralled by U.S. efforts to apprehend the source of the leak: Edward Snowden. Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow Sunday, June 23, to avoid a U.S. extradition request, and he remains in Sheremetyevo International Airport as he seeks asylum. As he tries to stave off extradition to the U.S., Snowden has been labeled a national hero by some and a traitor by others.

The U.S. has called on countries to turn Snowden away, but President Barack Obama on Thursday downplayed U.S. efforts to apprehend him:

Obama has not been in negotiations with officials in Russia and other countries that may offer Snowden asylum. Still, via social media, some questioned -- and mocked -- U.S. efforts to apprehend him.

Well-known online protester groups Anonymous and WikiLeaks, a group reportedly assisting Snowden, kept the spotlight on the U.S. government for what they say are actions that infringe on the rights of U.S. citizens.

Others are questioning how U.S. actions to extradite Snowden will influence relations with countries all over the world:

Russian officials have said they would not arrest Snowden, but have begun questioning how long he will remain at Sheremetyevo. Snowden has sought refuge in Ecuador, but an asylum application process could take months, Ecuadorian officials said.

Some in the Twittersphere compared Snowden's situation to the film The Terminal, where Tom Hanks' plays an immigrant who takes up residence in JFK airport.

The Snowden saga will likely continue as the world debates questions of online privacy vs. security, as well as the rights of people who leak government information.

What do you think of NSA's PRISM program controversy and U.S. efforts to apprehend Edward Snowden? Voice your concerns in the comments. We'd love to hear from you.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Ben Cole, associate editor. For more regulatory compliance news and updates throughout the week, follow us on Twitter @ITCompliance.

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