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.
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.

You May Like

Pakistan Among Developing Counties Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs