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SXSW Snowden speech calls for mass encryption, public NSA oversight

updated 02:07 pm EDT, Mon March 10, 2014

Whistleblower addresses US cyber defense weakness, need for privacy

Despite US officials' protestations, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden addressed a packed venue at SXSW today, by way of a Google Hangout routed through no less than seven proxies. In his hour-long moderated conversation, Snowden said that end-to-end encryption with readily-accessible tools are the keys to privacy. Additionally, he cited NSA leadership and intrusive surveillance as a reason for the onslaught of digital intrusion by hostile powers, caused by weakening of US cyber defenses.

In front of a digitally-inserted backdrop of the US Constitution, Snowden noted that current telecommunication methods are encrypted at both ends, but the hosting company often decrypts the content in the middle of the stream to monetize the communications. However, if users take steps for independent encryption, the actions would offer sufficient privacy protection unless a significant amount of effort goes into decrypting the communications by would-be surveillance agencies.

Addressing the NSA surveillance that prompted his self-imposed exile to Russia, Snowden said that "it's nothing we asked for. It's not something we wanted." The whistleblower also emphasized the need for effective and public oversight of intelligence-gathering agencies as well as law enforcement.

Snowden claims that the exuberance that NSA officials Keith Alexander and Michael Hayden shifted to an offensive posture in cyber surveillance of all citizens weakened the country's defenses while eroding privacy protections at the same time. "We've actually had tremendous intelligence failures because we've been monitoring everybody's communications rather than suspects," claimed Snowden.

Last week, Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, attempted to get the SXSW organizers to cancel the presentation, claiming that "Mr. Snowden has put the lives of our soldiers, sailors and airmen at risk -- in addition to the lives of the people who will attend your conference." He called Snowden "no more a whistleblower than were Alger Hiss, the Rosenbergs, or Benedict Arnold" and "both a traitor and a common criminal." The SXSW organizers declined Pompeo's request.

"What did we get from bulk collections?" Snowden asked. "We got nothing." In response to a question about second thoughts about what he had done, Snowden said that "would I do this again? The answer is yes. I took an oath to support the Constitution, and I saw that the Constitution was violated on a massive scale."




By Electronista Staff
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  1. davoud

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-14-05

    It's not surprising that the traitor and defector Snowdon would call for the crippling of our SIGINT collection capability, which is a key link in our national security apparatus.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Yeah, that Snowdon guy is worthless scum. On the other hand, Edward *Snowden* is a hero and patriot in the eyes of most people. History will be the judge, I guess.

  1. EstaNightshift

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 07-19-12

    Snowden is viewed by many as a hero and a patriot, yes. However, what is irrefutable is that regardless of intent, he broke a significant number of laws, and fled overseas to avoid prosecution for it. While I understand the right to be free, fleeing to a state with MORE surveillance strikes me as... disingenuous.

  1. chimaera

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 04-08-07

    Esta, wrong order. He travelled overseas, then broke the news to (American citizen) reporters. And he didn't flee to Russia, his passport was revoked while he was transiting there. One could argue the state department chose Russia for him.

    chas_m, a most excellent comment. :thumbsup:

  1. EstaNightshift

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 07-19-12

    Okay, he pre-fled the country to avoid prosecution for the leaks. I'm glad he leaked the documents, but I feel he lacked the fortitude to deal with the consequences, of which he knew there would be many.

  1. Grendelmon

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 12-26-07

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/homefront/


    Keep in mind this was filmed before Snowden came forward (2007). That's the disturbing part. Snowden essentially confirmed what we were already beginning to suspect about the NSA. I'm assuming that davoud probably thinks that PBS is just a bunch of traitors, too?

  1. davoud

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-14-05

    Grendelmon, I'll express my own thoughts and thank you for sticking to what you know. Snowden is a traitor because he stole information that is vital to our national security and turned it over to persons who have declared themselves to be our enemies. He is a defector because he fled the country and is living in a foreign land which has itself benefitted greatly from his treachery. Snowden, as a U.S. citizen, may return to the U.S. anytime he wants.

    As for NSA, the laws under which it operates are not secret. Its mission is not secret. Have any of you read the laws or the mission? You passed the laws without reading them, and now that you know what they say, you're all in a lather. Next time read what you're voting for. I see a few naive and ignorant people ranting about NSA's activities, but I don't see any broad outcry from the American people to repeal or amend those laws.

  1. chimaera

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 04-08-07

    I don't recall voting for or against these surveillance laws. Other than a few hundred people in DC, no citizen got to vote on them. It would have been better to put them to a referendum, where I'd read them before voting. I'd have been happy to read the FISA court proceedings that make up a lot of the practical law, had they been available. I do agree, it's a good thing the NSA does not operate under secret laws.

    If you don't see a broad outcry, perhaps you've missed those polls where a majority of Americans see Snowden as a whistleblower. Majorities are smaller than they used to be. Inflation. Also, I wasn't aware the press has declared themselves to be our enemies. Valuable info, I'll have to remember this.

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