Edward Snowden: The Internet Is Not Our Enemy, and Encryption Can Protect It

Photo credit: Rena Schild/Shutterstock.com
Photo credit: Rena Schild/Shutterstock.com

"The biggest thing that an internet company in America can do today, right now, without consulting lawyers, to protect users of the internet around the world is to enable web encryption on every page you visit," he said at TED2014. Everyone, he continued, needs to move to an encrypted browsing habit by default. 

Whether this will be enough, however, remains to be seen. He talked about the NSA's Bullrun program. "They're building in back doors. This is really dangerous – if we lose the trust of something like SSL, which was specifically targeted, we won't be able to access banks, commerce, without worrying about people monitoring those communications."

He also repeated the accusation that despite NSA protestations to the opposite, the NSA is collecting content and not just metadata. On Prism he said, "Much of the debate in the US is it's just metadata. Prism is about content. Even though some of these companies, Yahoo's one, challenged them in court, they all lost." And he added a comment that will shock many. "What Boundless Informant [another NSA program] tells us is more communications are being intercepted in America by Americans than in Russia by Russians."

To a degree, this is in response to the many accusations leveled recently about Snowden being a Russian puppet, or even a Russian spy, having fled the land of the free to hide in an authoritarian regime. He also hinted that his chosen method of exposing the surveillance programs was the only possible route. If he had gone to Congress with his concerns, he would have risked being "buried along with the information", although it's not clear if he meant 'buried' literally.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer scientist best known as the inventor of the web, was called to the stage by Anderson. He said Snowden was a 'hero.' Snowden, in turn, supported Berners-Lee's call for an internet Magna Carta. "I grew up in the internet", Snowden remarked. "I believe a Magna Carta for the internet is exactly what we need. We need to encode our values in the structure of the internet. I invite everyone in the audience to join and participate."

But for those who are becoming jaded by all the revelations and are now suffering NSA-fatigue, Snowden had one new comment. "There are absolutely more revelations to come," he said. "Some of the most important to be done [are] yet to come."

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