News / USA

    Snowden: Reforms Vindicate My Leaks

    NSA whistleblower 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, March 10, 2014.
    NSA whistleblower 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, March 10, 2014.
    Reuters
    Former security contractor Edward Snowden, addressing a sympathetic crowd at a
    tech-heavy Austin event on Monday from a secret location in Russia, said proposed reforms at the National Security Agency show that he was vindicated in leaking classified material.
     
    Snowden, who faces arrest if he sets foot on U.S. soil, spoke via a video link to a packed house at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) gathering of tech industry experts, filmmakers and musicians. He said the U.S. government still has no idea what material he has provided to journalists.
     
    "I saw that the Constitution was violated on a massive scale," Snowden said to applause, adding that his revelations of government spying on private communications have resulted in protections that have benefited the public and global society.
     
    Last year, Snowden, who had been working at a National Security Agency (NSA) facility as an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, leaked a raft of secret documents that revealed a vast U.S. government system for monitoring phone and Internet data.
     
    The leaks deeply embarrassed the Obama administration, which in January banned U.S. eavesdropping on the leaders of friendly countries and allies and began reining in the sweeping collection of Americans' phone data in a series of limited reforms triggered by Snowden's revelations.
     
    Major companies also tightened up safeguards, but Snowden said that is still not enough to protect privacy properly, calling for stepped-up encryption that would make mass government surveillance too costly to conduct.
     
    "The government has gone and changed their talking points. They have changed their verbiage away from public interest to national interest," he said, adding that this poses the risk of losing control of representative democracy. He said the government's priority has been an expansive and ill-executed system of massive information collection instead of protecting the vast amounts of intellectual property that supports the U.S. economy.
     
    "We've got the most to lose from being hacked," Snowden said.
     
    U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas, wrote to SXSW organizers, calling on them to withdraw the invitation to Snowden, a man he said deceived his employer and his country.
     
    "Rewarding Mr. Snowden's behavior in this way encourages the very lawlessness he exhibited," Pompeo wrote.
     
    To many in government and at the NSA, Snowden is a traitor who compromised the security of the United States. But for many at the conference, he is a hero who protected privacy and civil liberties.
     
    "To me, Snowden is a patriot who believed that what he did was in the best interests of his country," said Roeland Stekelenburg, creative director at the Dutch Internet firm Infostrada.
     
    NSA officials were not immediately available for comment.
     
    Snowden fled to Hong Kong and then to Russia, where he currently has asylum. The White House wants him returned to the United States for prosecution.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: k from: alaska
    March 11, 2014 5:56 AM
    Snowden lied about what goes on in juneau alaska and about me. This shows he doesn't know the truth about some spying or he is lying to please russia or he is a double agent spying for the usa. Whatever he is i don't trust him.

    by: Karl from: Victoria
    March 11, 2014 4:49 AM
    If you had simply exposed what you knew to the media then I might be inclined to agree with your self aggrandizement. However when you COPIED everything you could, and THEN fled to a country hostile the the US........................

    Ya, a true American hero.

    by: Rodbat from: Queensland
    March 11, 2014 4:26 AM
    He is and always will be, still a man who would sell his country for his own gratification

    by: Joy
    March 11, 2014 3:55 AM
    Snowden...we don't see you as hero and a coward who runs away into hiding because you are afraid to face he concequences of your action.

    You put this country at risk therefore you are not welcome here. How can you be so proud of yourself for being a traitor to youwn country? You are not welcome here. Your action is a product of maliciousness and a strong desire o be a hero. Well we have good news for you...YOU ARE NOT!!!
    In Response

    by: Michael from: Here
    March 11, 2014 5:03 AM
    @Joy

    Who made you the speaker for the people? Far as I'm concerned, he's welcome in my home any day. How do you say he put this country at risk? We are at risk of having our privacy? Are we at risk of not having "big brother" prying into our private lives? Before you say something about how Snowden has now made it harder to spy on our enemies, keep in mind that they were spying, illegally, mostly on allied nations. What's that say about us as Americans? Makes us just as sneaky and devilish as any other god forsaken entity that would utilize dirty tactics for hostile intent. Some of that data was even used to fatten the pockets of international business competitors. You seriously think that's okay? Shame on you. Utterly foolish. By the way, your first sentence contradicts itself.
    In Response

    by: jake
    March 11, 2014 4:48 AM
    What snowden did may be wrong to some but as a us citizen how are you suppose to obey the laws set by your government if they break them.
    The fourth Amendment
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
    They broke one of our first laws and are continuing to do so. I have nothing to hide but they need my permission or a warrant to do these things or change the constitution

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