Snowden Speaks at SXSW

by Josh Encinias

Appearing on Google Hangout live from Russia, Edward Snowden participated in a Q&A at South by Southwest (SXSW) Monday afternoon. The Declaration of Independence was projected behind Snowden as his ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner vetted questions from the audience.

Snowden chose SXSW for his first live video appearance because “it brings together a lot of young people who are passionate about technology and who know a lot about technology,” Wizner said yesterday. Representative Mike Pompeo wrote an open letter to SXSW, asking them to cancel the panel because it “encourages lawlessness.”

When asked if leaking NSA documents was worth the personal price, Snowden said, “The result has been that the public has benefited, the government has benefited, and every society in the world has benefited. . . . Would I do this again? The answer is absolutely yes.”

Snowden claimed that governments created an adversarial Internet, but that it can be fixed with new policies and better technology from the private-sector development community. “They’re setting fire to the future of the Internet, and you guys in the room are the global firefighters,” Snowden added.

Snowden said he isn’t completely against businesses like Facebook and Google collecting data, but they “should only collect the data and hold it as long as necessary for the nature of the business.”

When asked why he was less concerned with businesses having access to user information, Snowden said, “The government has the ability to deprive you of rights,” and that while businesses use data to sell products or may sell that information, users have legal options if that affects them negatively.