NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden came up via video call at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, on Sunday morning. Snowden held a streamed question-and-answer session with a group of invited privacy campaigners and technology experts.
Edward Snowden cannot attend tech conferences in person because he may be arrested if he leaves Russia. Sunday Yokubaitis, president of online privacy company Golden Frog, described as a “call to arms” that came in the form of a question and answer session.
As reported by Yokubaitis, Snowden said that companies need to adopt more secure technology that could brick surveillance in a mass or make it too stiff to pursue en masse. A major focus was end-to-end encryption, which means that the contents of communications would be visible to only the sender and the recipient. No third party can have access to the content which is being communicated.
“The low-hanging fruit is always [the] transit layer,” Edward reported. “It raises the cost. Every time we raise the cost, we force budgetary constraints.” This is especially relevant as tools that are built for targeted steadily grow into broader programs. “We hope that they start with North Korea and by the time they end up in Ohio, they run out of budget.”
Edward Snowden described that security systems like SSL are critical infrastructure because enough investment has not been made on these systems and as a result they have been subject to vulnerabilities. He further elaborated that if encryption is not common, simply using will mark a message as suspicious. Therefore companies should work for better encryptions.
“Him saying validates that companies should try and fill the holes, and not wait for policy,” said Yokubaitis after the meeting.