Company disclosures and terms of service have limited benefit as well. "Generally the terms of service are written to say we can do whatever we want, in a lot of words," he said. Even if a customer reads through carefully and notes what pledges are being made, "you have no way of monitoring what they do," Gellman added.
Since publishing stories on the NSA surveillance programs, Gellman has stepped up his personal privacy efforts significantly, through "layered defenses" including "locked rooms, safes, and air-gapped computers that never have and never will touch the 'net," he said. The extra steps are "a giant tax on my time," Gellman added.
It's not clear how many more revelations will come to light from the materials Snowden gave Gellman and other journalists. Snowden reportedly gave reporters up to 200,000 documents.
"The [NSA] documents are far from complete," often providing clues to things that end up being wrong after further investigation, Gellman said.
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