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Snowden: US reforms vindicate classified data leaks

Former security contractor Edward Snowden, addressing a sympathetic crowd at a tech-heavy Austin event from a secret location in Russia, has said proposed reforms at the National Security Agency show that he was vindicated in leaking classified material.

Snowden, facing arrest if he steps foot on US soil, spoke via a video link to a packed house at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) gathering of tech industry experts, filmmakers and musicians. He said the US government still has no idea what material he has provided to journalists.

"I saw that the Constitution was violated on a massive scale," Snowden said to applause, adding that his revelations of government spying on private communications have resulted in protections that have benefited the public and global society.

Last year, Snowden, who had been working at a National Security Agency (NSA) facility as an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, leaked a raft of secret documents that revealed a vast US government system for monitoring phone and Internet data.

The leaks deeply embarrassed the Obama administration, which in January banned U.S. eavesdropping on the leaders of friendly countries and allies and began reining in the sweeping collection of Americans' phone data in a series of limited reforms triggered by Snowden's revelations.

Major companies also tightened up safeguards, but Snowden said that is still not enough to protect privacy properly, calling for stepped-up encryption that would make mass government surveillance too costly to conduct.

"The government has gone and changed their talking points. They have changed their verbiage away from public interest to national interest," he said, adding that this poses the risk of losing control of representative democracy.

He said the government's priority has been an expansive and ill-executed system of massive information collection instead of protecting the vast amounts of intellectual property that supports the US economy.

"We've got the most to lose from being hacked," Snowden said.

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Tags:  US  NSA  surveillance  Snowden  





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