Snowden at SXSW: NSA "Set Fire" to the Internet

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 10 2014 6:25 PM

Edward Snowden Speaks at South by Southwest, Says NSA "Set Fire" to the Internet

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden speaks via videoconference at the 'Virtual Conversation With Edward Snowden' during the 2014 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at the Austin Convention Center on March 10, 2014 in Austin, Texas.

Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW

Despite the protestations of some in the government, Edward Snowden continues to get his message out. Today Snowden spoke from Russia via Google Hangout to a friendly crowd of South by Southwest techies about -- you guessed it -- surveillance, privacy, and data. Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, and Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist at the ACLU joined the former NSA contractor from the stage in Austin.

“The people who are in the room in Austin right now, they are the folks who can enforce our rights through technical standards even when Congress hasn’t yet gotten to the point of creating legislation to protect our rights in that same manner,” Snowden, set against a Constitution of the United States wallpaper, began. “It’s the makers, it’s the thinkers, it’s the developer community who can help make sure we're safe."


Here’s the video below along with a few highlights to help you through. Due to the connection and echoing in the room, Snowden’s portions are bit difficult to decipher.

5:05 Snowden: The NSA is “setting fire” to the Internet, techies are “the firefighters.”

25:00 Snowden: Monitoring everyone’s communications instead of suspects’ communications has caused the U.S. to miss leads, like Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev and the underwear bomber.

29:50 Snowden: We can’t have officials like National Intelligence Director James Clapper who "can lie to the country, lie to Congress and not face criticism."

41:10 Snowden: "Encryption does work." We need to think of encryption not as an "arcane, black art" but "as defense against the dark arts."

44:10 Snowden recommends steps to protect your privacy: Full disk encryption, network encryption, and anonymity software Tor.

56:20 Snowden answers, was it worth it? "I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution and I saw that the Constitution was being violated on a massive scale."



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