Snowden’s Message to Developers

Edward Snowden spoke to an audience of web developers and entrepreneurs at the SXSW conference on Monday.  It was the first time Mr. Snowden has spoken directly to an audience in the United States since he left the country early last summer.  The message was delivered using Google Hangouts running through several proxies.  Making it hard to follow at times.  Which was in line with part of the message to developers.

Snowden Message to Developers at SXSW

Ben Wizner from the ACLU moderated the presentation.  Christopher Soghoian from the ACLU was also on stage.  They led the privacy discussion and Q&A session.  Tim-Berners Lee, the father of the World Wide Web, was given the first question.  The discussion centered around the need for government oversight and accountability.  Along with a call for tech companies and developers to focus on privacy and encryption.

Snowden said “We need to lock things down and make things secure out of the box.  Developers will have to think differently.” in his message.  Because of the courageous actions taken last year by Snowden the topic of privacy is on everyone’s mind.  Large tech companies have seen the response and are starting to take action.  Encrypted communication is a necessary part of online services and should be built into the cost.

We could drop in a few more quotes from the video but it’s better for you to take the time to watch it for yourself.  Please be aware that the quality of Snowden’s stream is terrible at times.  I’m sure running through multiple proxies was necessary but it affected the quality of the stream.  Don’t let that turn you away though because the message is well worth it.  You can also read the transcript of the stream.  Here’s a link to the YouTube video.

The moderator brought up a good point as well.  Free privacy services do not optimize the experience with your best interests at mind.  It costs money to run a VPN, online backup, voice, video and other encrypted services.  If those costs aren’t being passed on to customers there isn’t a reason to make member privacy a priority.  If you’re getting a privacy service or any online service (Google, Fecbook, etc.) for free then you’re the product.

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