Edward Snowden made a surprise appearance via live stream at the TED Conference in Vancouver on Tuesday, telling the crowd that "some of the most important reporting is yet to come."
Broadcasting via a robotic mobile camera he controlled from somewhere in Russia, Snowden answered questions for half an hour from Chris Anderson, the head of TED, who was on stage in Vancouver.
According to a transcript posted to the TED Blog, the former CIA analyst, who leaked evidence that the National Security Agency was secretly surveying citizens' telecommunications, explained why Americans who haven't done anything wrong should still be worried about their privacy.
"In democratic societies around the world, people should be able to pick up the phone, call family, send text messages to loved one, travel by train, buy an airline ticket — without wondering how those events will look to an agent of government, possibly not even your government but one years in the future," he said.
"Trusting any government authority with the entirety of human communications without any oversight is too great a temptation to be ignored."
Snowden has been granted asylum in Russia for one year on the condition that he stop leaking information. The U.S. wants to prosecute him for espionage.
And while he is hated by many, he was preaching to the choir in Vancouver. When Anderson asked the audience if they felt Snowden did the right thing by revealing NSA documents, they "erupted with applause," reported Mashable.
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Snowden also said that the American government uses terrorism as an excuse to gather citizen data, according to the transcript.
"Terrorism provokes an emotional response that allows people to rationalize and authorize programs they wouldn’t have otherwise," he said.
"...in the post 9/11 era, they used secrecy and justification of terrorism to start programs in secret without asking Congress or the American people. Government behind closed doors is what we must guard against."
He said that privacy is "not a partisan issue" and that failing to make the Internet safer "would be a tremendous loss for us and for the world."
Snowden's appearance was made possible with the Beam Bot Robot, made by California-based Suitable Tech, reports Upstart Business Journal.
TED Vancouver was the whistleblower's second remote appearance in eight days. He held a Google hangout at the SXSW conference on March 10, saying that "the NSA, this global mass surveillance that's happening in all these countries, not just the U.S., they're setting fire to future of the Internet."
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