Edward Snowden is an American computer specialist who worked for the CIA and the NSA and leaked details of several top-secret United States and British government mass surveillance programs to the press. Snowden was an IT contractor who specialized in computer security. His experience included stints as an “ethical hacker.”
Snowden became aware of the U.S. government’s espionage activities targeted at Snowden explained his motive for the leak in an interview to the Washington Post, “It was more of a slow realization that presidents could openly lie to secure the office and then break public promises without consequence.” 
The revelation of the government’s clandestine efforts at cell phone and internet data gathering induces one of three reactions in most people: You’re appalled that all this spying is going on because your Fourth-Amendment rights have been grievously violated; you’re not really concerned, because lost privacy is the price of security; or you’re perplexed but not threatened, wondering how this could have happened and what it means in the evolution of the democratic state.
Read the below commentary from the Washington Times  and answer the questions below.
Rights are admissions of powers or power assumed or granted to a person or persons. We might believe they’re God-given, granted by governments, won in war or by persistent protest, or a combination of these. In the United States, the rights guaranteed in our Constitution are assumed to be God-given because the state has no authority to take them away. The Declaration of Independence says these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Privacy is accepted as one of the rights of American citizens, even though it is not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. The Supreme Court and other courts and laws have defined these privacy rights, establishing them firmly as a feature of constitutional law. Edward Snowden obviously felt an obligation to inform the people of the United States and the world that these rights were being trampled by the NSA’s indiscriminate collection of data, much of it believed by most of us to be private.
Do the demands of security and the need to know about feared terrorist threats supersede our expectation of telecommunications privacy? What does this mean for your right to privacy?
What Snowden did was either patriotism or treason. Ethically, Snowden’s actions were either self-righteous self-aggrandizement, or it is a justifiable effort to stop an egregious wrong. Either he has exercised the highest principle of good in self-sacrifice, or he has been a selfish fool.
Snowden seems to have been motivated by the assumption that what NSA was doing was against the law. The government seems to have been working for some time to ensure what NSA and other agencies were doing was legal. Executive orders in the Bush and Obama administrations as well as adoption of laws by Congress in the last few years have expanded the government’s powers and addressed some of the questions raised by Snowden.
Were Snowden’s actions legal? Were they ethical?