Edward Snowden, who faces charges of espionage and theft of government property, spoke at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, via teleconference.
Snowden spoke Monday morning at SXSW — a convergence of original music, independent films and emerging technologies.
Snowden is currently in Russia, where he has political asylum.
CNN reported, “The event marked the first time the former National Security Agency contractor has directly addressed people in the United States since he fled the country with thousands of secret documents last June.”
Snowden said he had no regrets about his decision to leak the NSA documents, which showed the intelligence agency has conducted secret monitoring of Americans’ phone and Internet behavior in the name of national security.
“Would I do it again? Absolutely. Regardless of what happens to me, this is something we had a right to,” Snowden said in the teleconference.
“Snowden also said that the average Internet user needs more awareness, and better tools, to help them secure their online information from prying eyes,” CNN reported.
Some questions raised and comments made at SXSW were about the information the government can obtain and maybe use down the road and how the government might use the Internet to collect information about individuals.
The Guardian reported, “(Snowden) encouraged ordinary Internet users to protect themselves against surveillance by encrypting both their hard drives and their online activity, describing encryption as ‘the defense against the dark arts in the digital realm.’ He also advised people to browse the web anonymously using the Tor system.”
“Snowden characterized the NSA’s surveillance program, as well as similar programs from governments around the globe, as “setting fire to the future of the Internet,” according to an NBC news report.
Others said because of Snowden and his disclosure many companies have improved Internet security.
Watch the full interview: