Snowden calls for better encryption to protect public from government spying

Edward Snowden
Snowden speaks during SXSW

In a rare live interview, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden echoed an encryption call to arms.

Channeled in to Austin's SXSW via Google Hangouts, Snowden said encryption should be easily accessible to the everyday person, not just technologists, to ensure protection from government spying.

He said that the view of encryption as an "arcane dark art" needs to change, and that technology companies should have encryption built into their services as a way to protect the people who use them.

"Encryption does work," Snowden declared, noting that while services like Tor are effective, they aren't typically used by most people.

Positioned in front of a green screen showing Article One of the US Constitution, Snowden also called for "a watchdog that watches Congress," one that could call out when officials lie to the public, as the former government contractor alleges has happened repeatedly.

Encrypt this

Interestingly, Snowden said companies like Google and Facebook can continue to make ad revenue with data they collect from user emails and messages while still protecting users from government eyes.

"[They can] get advertising money but can give people the security they want," he said, noting it's a matter of doing it responsibly.

Snowden said earlier in the session that the NSA is "setting fire to the future of the internet," and that it's up to the technology community to put out the flames before it's too late.

Asked if blowing the lid off bulk data collection and other spying programs was worth the consequences he now faces, Snowden had his to say:

"Would I do this again? The answer is absolutely yes. I took an oath to defend and support the Constitution, and I felt the Constitution was violated on a massive scale."

You can watch Snowden's interview at SXSW below:

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.