Privacy SOS

Snowden: the NSA set fire to the internet

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Yesterday at SXSW, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden spoke live to an American audience for the first time since he left the United States. Addressing a giant auditorium in Austin's downtown convention center, the former CIA and NSA employee turned privacy advocate was joined by his legal counsel, ACLU attorney Ben Wizner, and the ACLU's principal technologist Chris Soghoian.

Disappointing people who wanted to hear sensational details about his daily life in Russia, Snowden focused on issues relevant to the people in the audience, technologists and venture capitalists working in the technology sector. His plea was relatively simple: encrypt your users' data, to make dragnet surveillance impossible.

The NSA, Snowden said, was "setting fire to the future of the internet. And the people in this room, you guys are the firefighters. We need you to help us fix this," he implored.

The live video feed was difficult to watch because of technical difficulties at SXSW, but the video embedded above is a much cleaner edit. Take a look and listen to the young whistleblower a former colleague called "a genius among geniuses" as he discusses the current threats to internet security and privacy, and the need for immediate technological solutions.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.