Speaking via teleconference, former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden on Monday called for more public oversight of the U.S. secret surveillance practices and better online security measures to protect the public.
Snowden, who is currently living in Russia under temporary asylum, spoke to an audience of thousands at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas. This is his first public appearance to American audience since last summer. Snowden said the NSA surveillance programs are "setting fire to the future of the Internet." "I took an oath to support and defend the (U.S.) Constitution and I saw that the Constitution was being violated on a massive scale," he said, appearing on video screens with an image of the U. S. Constitution as a backdrop. "We need public advocates. We need public oversight," said Snowden. He accused U.S. lawmakers of "cheerleading the NSA instead of holding them to account." "There's a political response that needs to occur, but there's also a tech response that needs to occur," said Snowden. He urged the tech companies to further tighten safeguards and called on people like the attendees at the annual festival to step up to help protect the public's privacy. Agencies
"You guys are all the firefighters and we need you to help us fix this," he told the audience.