Snowden urges tech industry to protect clients, customers

Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked documents that revealed a vast network of surveillance by American government agencies, wants the technology industry to become serious about protecting the privacy of its customers.

Mr. Snowden, speaking Monday at the South by Southwest festival via videoconference, said the early technology adopters and entrepreneurs who travel to Austin every year for the event are “the folks who can fix this and enforce our rights…”

Mr. Snowden said that even the companies whose business models rely on collecting data about their users “can still do this in a responsible way.”

“It’s not that you shouldn’t collect the data,” he said. “But you should only collect the data and hold it as long as necessary.”

Hundreds of people sat quietly as Mr. Snowden spoke. Mr. Snowden, who faces criminal charges of espionage and fled the United States last summer, spoke from Russia, where he is living.

Ultimately, the tech industry can help fix the problem, Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist of the American Civil Liberties Union said.

“Most regular people are not going to download some obscure security app,” he said. “They’re going to use the tools they already have,” which include Google, Facebook and Skype.

The technology community should pressure those companies to introduce security measures that are stronger and easier to use, Mr. Soghoian said.

We need services to include security by default,” he added.

Geeks or not, if you have sufficient experience online you’ve either learned to protect yourself – or you’re in line to be ripped off. Either by crafty crooks or your own government. For some of us, secure responses, cynicism born of years of emails from folks pretending to share lottery winnings 🙂 have built in an attitude anyone stuck into the human race should have learned by now. There is no free lunch. The corporate database miners have a responsibility IMHO to provide more protection for the folks who aren’t geekified enough to care to learn about precautions.

Bravo, once again, for Ed Snowden. Nice to see a conservative and libertarian who remembers when those used to be qualities that included concern for your fellow human beings.

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