NSA leaker's girlfriend struggles with privacy in digital age

Twitter/lsjourneys

While the discussion rages on about the fate of Edward Snowden, the man who leaked National Security Agency (NSA) documents to the press, there is another bizarre development happening -- a race to find out everything about his girlfriend. And because of her long history of online posts, it hasn't been hard to follow her digital trail.

Last Thursday, the Guardian and the Washington Post reported that the NSA and FBI have a direct line to nine Internet companies -- as part of a surveillance program called PRISM. By Sunday, at Snowden's request, the Guardian revealed his identity and the fact that he left behind his girlfriend without any knowledge of his plans.

Linsday Mills, 28, has a deep Internet footprint: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, social media app Path and a personal blog. The search for her identity began almost immediately after Snowden revealed his identity.

On Monday, sites like BuzzFeed and Gawker were posting photos of Mills that were found on her blog, Facebook and Instagram. On Reddit.com, several links to her photos and videos were posted with post titles like, "So it turns out that Edward Snowden's Girlfriend is a total babe."

Mills has posted several videos of herself pole dancing at events, including Honolulu's Fringe Festival. According to the Los Angeles Times, Mills was a dancer with the Waikiki Acrobatic Troupe. However, she hasn't been showing up to regular Wednesday night workouts with the dancing group.

On Tuesday, Mills' father confirmed that the two had been in a relationship for about four years. Since then, the blogs and mainstream media alike have mined through Mills' past, seeking a glimpse into the life Snowden left behind. What many found was a treasure trove of self-portraits of Mills, who was often in little clothing. 

Mills wrote a revealing post on her blog, addressing the hopelessness she felt the day after the Guardian revealed Snowden's identity.

"For those of you that know me without my super hero cape, you can probably understand why I'll be refraining from blog posts for awhile. My world has opened and closed all at once. Leaving me lost at sea without a compass," Mills wrote.

"And for the first time in my life I feel strong enough to be on my own. Though I never imagined my hand would be so forced. As I type this on my tear-streaked keyboard I'm reflecting on all the faces that have graced my path."

In several other posts, Mills writes a diary of her life as a dancer, struggles with one of Snowden's trip to the mainland and moving to a new home together. Her blog has since been taken down. 

Mills referrers to Snowden as "E" on her blog, and rarely speaks in detail about their interactions. In one post written last year, she writes: "Friday night I was able to finally introduce E to my skeptical friends (they weren't quite sure E existed)."

Mills appears to struggle with the public's fascination with her and wrote on Twitter, "To delete or not to delete. That is the question."

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