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Larry Magid: Snowden Offers SXSW Crowd Online Privacy Advice

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(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

LarryMagid01-228 Larry Magid
Larry Magid is a technology journalist and an Internet safe...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival is underway in Austin and National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden is telling people how they can protect their privacy online. But how is he being perceived by the tech community?

Snowden spoke via video conference to a crowd at SXSW and probably his most memorable line will be, and I paraphrase, that the NSA is setting fire to the future of the internet and that the folks at SXSW are the firefighters.

He did get applause from that line, which in essence is his belief that the NSA challenges freedom by allegedly spying on people, not only in the U.S., but abroad on their Internet capable devices.

We know that Snowden, whether you consider him a whistle-blower or someone who committed treason, has revealed a lot of information about the NSA and has made claims against them, some of which the Obama Administration denies.

However, a commission was formed after Snowden’s revelations and there have already been reforms either proposed or put into place, after Snowden’s information leak.

I’m not in Austin at the conference, but reports have said that Snowden’s address has been well received and that those in the tech community have been supportive.

The reaction to Snowden doesn’t really surprise me. Major tech companies like Google and Facebook seem to be happy about the fact that the transparency issue has been front and center.

It was interesting when Snowden was asked during the forum why he was addressing a room full of techies on the issue instead of lawmakers. He does view the people in that room as being influential and that they can make things happen. He’s also said that the solutions could be technological and that encrypted communication is essential for privacy.

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