Edward Snowden says he plans to develop and promote anti-surveillance technology to hamper government spying across the globe.
The former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, who leaked confidential documents detailing the extensive surveillance activities of the NSA and the UK's GCHQ, called for support at the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference via a video link from Moscow, Russia.
Snowden addressed the conference on Saturday, requesting that the hacking community channel its resources into developing anti-surveillance technologies which will make government spying more difficult — and said that he planned to spend much of his future time doing the same.
The former NSA contractor said:
We the people — you the people, you in this room right now — have both the means and the capability to improve the future by encoding our rights into programs and protocols by which we rely every day. [..] and that's what a lot of my future work is going to be involved in, and I hope you'll join me in making that a reality.
Speaking at the New York City conference, Snowden also defended his actions in relation to leaking confidential documents from the US intelligence agency to the media. The contractor said that most Americans have little concept of how wide-ranging their government's surveillance activities are, but "have a right as Americans and as members of the global community to know the broad outlines of government policies that significantly impact on our lives."
"If we're going to have a democracy and an enlightened citizenry, if we’re going to provide the consent of the governed, we have to know what is going on, we have to know the broad outlines of a policy and we can’t have the government shut us out from every action that they’re doing," Snowden commented.
Snowden is currently hidden in Russia after fleeing the United States last year. The former NSA contractor's Russian visa expires at the end of July, and the former contractor has requested an extension. However, Snowden did not comment on whether his visa has been extended.
In an interview with The Guardian last week, Snowden said he is unlikely to have a fair trial if he returned to the US, being one of few whistleblowers in history to be charged under the Espionage Act.