NSA leaker Edward Snowden accused the U.S. surveillance agency of “setting fire to the future of the Internet,” and called Monday for the tech community to be “the firefighters.”
The former NSA contractor received a warm reception while speaking at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival remotely via videoconference from Russia, where he's been granted temporary asylum.
Snowden appeared in front of a green-screen that showed Article One of the U.S. Constitution as a backdrop. He appeared to have no regrets about exposing the U.S. government's surveillance methods.
"And when it comes to would I do this again, the answer is absolutely yes," he told the audience.
“I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution and I saw that the Constitution was being violated on a massive scale,” he added.
Snowden touched on a number of issues in the hour-long conversation. He dispensed advice on how U.S. citizens can keep their web-surfing activities more private by using a free service called Tor, which encrypts web traffic. He also called on the technology industry to create more software and services that help guard individual privacy.
Monday’s session began at 11 a.m. Central Time and ended about an hour later.
Snowden faces felony charges in the U.S. after revealing the agency's mass surveillance program by leaking thousands of classified documents to media outlets.
Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, also spoke at Monday’s event, along with Snowden's legal adviser, the ACLU's Ben Wizner.
"Let me be clear about one thing: His disclosures have improved Internet security,” Soghoian said of Snowden, NBC News reported.
The ACLU offered a live blog of Snowden's talk on its website and the Texas Tribune's website hosted a live video stream.
Fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addressed the Austin conference on Saturday, and called the NSA a “rogue agency.” Assange is living in asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.