To some, including the politicians who have termed him a "traitor," Snowden is a controversial figure. To others, including the over 140,000 people who signed a (yet unanswered) White House petition calling for him to be pardoned, he's a "national hero." But Time's person of the year isn't supposed to be a popularity contest: Previous selections include Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Ayatollah Khomeini. That's why we here at The Switch are naming Snowden our "Person of the Year."
By leaking details about the clandestine programs in use by the NSA and its surveillance partners around the world, Snowden has ignited a fierce debate about the meaning of civil liberties in the 21st century in the United States and abroad. In story after story, the public is learning the true breadth of digital surveillance permeating the Internet age.
From the dragnet collection of domestic cellphone metadata and of online content through programs like PRISM to revealing the actual breakdown of U.S. intelligence spending, Snowden's leaks have dramatically disrupted the cloud of secrecy surrounding surveillance practices in a way that will change public discourse for years to come.