The NSA is 'setting fire to the future of the Internet' states Edward Snowden as he calls for stronger online encryption

PRISM whistleblower Edward Snowden has said that the National Security Agency (NSA) is "setting fire to the future of the internet" and revealed he still believes his actions were correct and that the world has benefitted as a result of his continued releasing of classified information on communications surveillance.

Speaking at SXSW from Russia, using a Google+ video feed filtered through seven proxies to hide his location, Snowden sat with a green screen projection of the US constitution behind him on the screen.

He discussed the need for continual research and development in online security and encryption in order to defend against surveillance by the NSA, although he did admit that if it wanted to target an individual "they will get you".

Snowden told the crowd gathered in the room that he had accepted the invitation to speak at the festival as he believed attendees were the people to help combat online surveillance and told the room "we need you to fix this" and added that a "technical response" was necessary.

The need for end-to-end data encryption was his first message, although he claimed that companies such as Google did not want wish to see that introduction as it threatened their own data collection business.

He highlighted his concerns for the length of time personal information and phone calls were being stored and revealed that he had previously discovered that a company which was hacked still held his passport details, four years after he had registered them.

"I think we're seeing progress being made to make encryption easier," he stated and would later recommend the use of Tor for online defence and added that he wanted to see encryption tools introduced by Twitter and WhatsApp.

"Our economy cannot succeed" without online communications trust from citizens, Snowden warned.

Questions accepted through Twitter, saw the father of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners Lee, offer his thanks to Snowden who's actions, he said "have been profoundly in the public interest."

During the interview he stated the need for a watchdog to oversee the actions of Congress and police its policies; "Governments can deprive you of rights, they can literally kill you or put you in prison," he stated, offering some insight into the danger he faces while evading arrest from the US.

He was later asked whether he felt his actions were still justified as a result of the reaction he had received and the life he was now forced to lead. He replied "yes" and explained that he did not disclose the NSA data "to single handily change the Government". He added that he believed both society and the Government had benefited as a result, while more secure communications has been introduced as a consequence.

"I took an oath to support and protect the US constitution and I saw it being violated on a massive scale," he stated passionately before concluding, "Regardless of what happens to me, this is something we had a right to know."

Before beginning the interview, it was revealed that a leet had been received from a member of Congress asking the organisers of SXSW to cancel the interview.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.