The Guardian has an article on Edward Snowden's recent (virtual) appearance at the SXSW conference - Snowden told me the NSA set fire to the web. Silicon Valley needs to put it out
You are the firefighters,” National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden told a tech savvy audience here yesterday, during my conversation with him at the SXSW festival. “The people in Austin are the ones who can protect our rights through technical standards.”
Ed’s comments were a call to arms for the tech community to protect its users from indiscriminate mass surveillance by the NSA and the insecurity it creates. Despite the talk from Washington DC regarding cybersecurity threats – and you’ll hear more of it today during a confirmation hearing for the would-be next head of the NSA – it is now clear that the NSA’s mass surveillance efforts are not meant for good. Whether it’s systematically undermining global encryption standards, hacking communications companies’ servers and data links or exploiting so-called zero-day vulnerabilities, the nation’s cyberspies are focused on attacking online privacy and weakening the security of systems that we all trust.
Forget all the government rhetoric on cybersecurity: the NSA simply isn’t here to make the Internet more secure. But that doesn’t mean the agency has to win. The global tech community can fight back, if developers ramp up efforts to build privacy and security into their products. By zeroing in on practical steps Ed and I discussed in our conversation here, we can build a more open, free and secure Internet.
Unfortunately, for far too long, security has been an afterthought. Even for a lot of my fellow geeks here at SXSW.
Julian Assange also made a virtual appearanc at SXSW - Julian Assange tells SXSW audience: ‘NSA has grown to be a rogue agency’.
The Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on Saturday told an audience in Texas that people power is the key to rolling back the power of the National Security Agency and other surveillance agencies.
“We have to do something about it. All of us have to do something about it,” he said, in an interview at the SXSW conference in Austin. “How can individuals do something about it? Well, we’ve got no choice.”
Assange was speaking in a “virtual” conversation conducted by video from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been confined since June 2012. The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald will appear in similar sessions over the coming days.
Interviewed by Benjamin Palmer of the marketing agency the Barbarian Group, Assange discussed issues including government surveillance, online democracy and the future of the internet.
On life within the embassy, he said: “It is a bit like prison. Arguably prison is far worse in relation to restrictions on visitors, for example, and the level of bureaucracy involved.” Noting that at any given point there are about a dozen police officers stationed outside, he said: “The UK government has admitted to spending $8m so far just on the police surveillance of the embassy.”
Asked for his views on what governments should be doing, after the NSA revelations, about the way surveillance agencies interact with people, Assange said: “The NSA has grown to be a rogue agency. It has grown to be unfettered … the ability to surveil everyone on the planet is almost there, and arguably will be there within a few years. And that’s led to a huge transfer of power from the people who are surveilled upon, to those who control the surveillance complex.”
Assange talked about a historical “PR campaign based on not existing” for the NSA, which he said had been swept away by the revelations prompted by Snowden’s leaking of thousands of documents to media outlets including the Guardian.
Snowden also recently appeared (via telepresence robot) at TED - Edward Snowden: Here's how we take back the Internet.
Appearing by telepresence robot, Edward Snowden speaks at TED2014 about surveillance and Internet freedom. The right to data privacy, he suggests, is not a partisan issue, but requires a fundamental rethink of the role of the internet in our lives — and the laws that protect it. "Your rights matter,” he says, "because you never know when you're going to need them." Chris Anderson interviews, with special guest Tim Berners-Lee.