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  • Chris Anderson: The rights of citizens,

  • the future of the Internet.

  • So I would like to welcome to the TED stage

  • the man behind those revelations,

  • Ed Snowden.

  • (Applause)

  • Ed is in a remote location somewhere in Russia

  • controlling this bot from his laptop,

  • so he can see what the bot can see.

  • Ed, welcome to the TED stage.

  • What can you see, as a matter of fact?

  • Edward Snowden: Ha, I can see everyone.

  • This is amazing.

  • (Laughter)

  • CA: Ed, some questions for you.

  • You've been called many things

  • in the last few months.

  • You've been called a whistleblower, a traitor,

  • a hero.

  • What words would you describe yourself with?

  • ES: You know, everybody who is involved

  • with this debate

  • has been struggling over me and my personality

  • and how to describe me.

  • But when I think about it,

  • this isn't the question that we should be struggling with.

  • Who I am really doesn't matter at all.

  • If I'm the worst person in the world,

  • you can hate me and move on.

  • What really matters here are the issues.

  • What really matters here is the kind of government we want,

  • the kind of Internet we want,

  • the kind of relationship between people

  • and societies.

  • And that's what I'm hoping the debate will move towards,

  • and we've seen that increasing over time.

  • If I had to describe myself,

  • I wouldn't use words like "hero."

  • I wouldn't use "patriot," and I wouldn't use "traitor."

  • I'd say I'm an American and I'm a citizen,

  • just like everyone else.

  • CA: So just to give some context

  • for those who don't know the whole story --

  • (Applause) —

  • this time a year ago, you were stationed in Hawaii

  • working as a consultant to the NSA.

  • As a sysadmin, you had access

  • to their systems,

  • and you began revealing certain classified documents

  • to some handpicked journalists

  • leading the way to June's revelations.

  • Now, what propelled you to do this?

  • ES: You know,

  • when I was sitting in Hawaii,

  • and the years before, when I was working in the intelligence community,

  • I saw a lot of things that had disturbed me.

  • We do a lot of good things in the intelligence community,

  • things that need to be done,

  • and things that help everyone.

  • But there are also things that go too far.

  • There are things that shouldn't be done,

  • and decisions that were being made in secret

  • without the public's awareness,

  • without the public's consent,

  • and without even our representatives in government

  • having knowledge of these programs.

  • When I really came to struggle with these issues,

  • I thought to myself,

  • how can I do this in the most responsible way,

  • that maximizes the public benefit

  • while minimizing the risks?

  • And out of all the solutions that I could come up with,

  • out of going to Congress,

  • when there were no laws,

  • there were no legal protections

  • for a private employee,

  • a contractor in intelligence like myself,

  • there was a risk that I would be buried along with the information

  • and the public would never find out.

  • But the First Amendment of the United States Constitution

  • guarantees us a free press for a reason,

  • and that's to enable an adversarial press,

  • to challenge the government,

  • but also to work together with the government,

  • to have a dialogue and debate about how we can

  • inform the public about matters of vital importance

  • without putting our national security at risk.

  • And by working with journalists,

  • by giving all of my information

  • back to the American people,

  • rather than trusting myself to make

  • the decisions about publication,

  • we've had a robust debate

  • with a deep investment by the government

  • that I think has resulted in a benefit for everyone.

  • And the risks that have been threatened,

  • the risks that have been played up

  • by the government

  • have never materialized.

  • We've never seen any evidence

  • of even a single instance of specific harm,

  • and because of that,

  • I'm comfortable with the decisions that I made.

  • CA: So let me show the audience

  • a couple of examples of what you revealed.

  • If we could have a slide up, and Ed,

  • I don't know whether you can see,

  • the slides are here.

  • This is a slide of the PRISM program,

  • and maybe you could tell the audience

  • what that was that was revealed.

  • ES: The best way to understand PRISM,

  • because there's been a little bit of controversy,

  • is to first talk about what PRISM isn't.

  • Much of the debate in the U.S. has been about metadata.

  • They've said it's just metadata, it's just metadata,

  • and they're talking about a specific legal authority

  • called Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

  • That allows sort of a warrantless wiretapping,

  • mass surveillance of the entire country's

  • phone records, things like that --

  • who you're talking to,

  • when you're talking to them,

  • where you traveled.

  • These are all metadata events.

  • PRISM is about content.

  • It's a program through which the government could

  • compel corporate America,

  • it could deputize corporate America

  • to do its dirty work for the NSA.

  • And even though some of these companies did resist,

  • even though some of them --

  • I believe Yahoo was one of them

  • challenged them in court, they all lost,

  • because it was never tried by an open court.

  • They were only tried by a secret court.

  • And something that we've seen,

  • something about the PRISM program that's very concerning to me is,

  • there's been a talking point in the U.S. government

  • where they've said 15 federal judges

  • have reviewed these programs and found them to be lawful,

  • but what they don't tell you

  • is those are secret judges

  • in a secret court

  • based on secret interpretations of law

  • that's considered 34,000 warrant requests

  • over 33 years,

  • and in 33 years only rejected

  • 11 government requests.

  • These aren't the people that we want deciding

  • what the role of corporate America

  • in a free and open Internet should be.

  • CA: Now, this slide that we're showing here

  • shows the dates in which

  • different technology companies, Internet companies,

  • are alleged to have joined the program,

  • and where data collection began from them.

  • Now, they have denied collaborating with the NSA.

  • How was that data collected by the NSA?

  • ES: Right. So the NSA's own slides

  • refer to it as direct access.

  • What that means to an actual NSA analyst,

  • someone like me who was working as an intelligence analyst

  • targeting, Chinese cyber-hackers,

  • things like that, in Hawaii,

  • is the provenance of that data

  • is directly from their servers.

  • It doesn't mean

  • that there's a group of company representatives

  • sitting in a smoky room with the NSA

  • palling around and making back-room deals

  • about how they're going to give this stuff away.

  • Now each company handles it different ways.

  • Some are responsible.

  • Some are somewhat less responsible.

  • But the bottom line is, when we talk about

  • how this information is given,

  • it's coming from the companies themselves.

  • It's not stolen from the lines.

  • But there's an important thing to remember here:

  • even though companies pushed back,

  • even though companies demanded,

  • hey, let's do this through a warrant process,

  • let's do this

  • where we actually have some sort of legal review,

  • some sort of basis for handing over

  • these users' data,

  • we saw stories in the Washington Post last year

  • that weren't as well reported as the PRISM story

  • that said the NSA broke in

  • to the data center communications

  • between Google to itself

  • and Yahoo to itself.

  • So even these companies that are cooperating

  • in at least a compelled but hopefully lawful manner

  • with the NSA,

  • the NSA isn't satisfied with that,

  • and because of that, we need our companies

  • to work very hard

  • to guarantee that they're going to represent

  • the interests of the user, and also advocate

  • for the rights of the users.

  • And I think over the last year,

  • we've seen the companies that are named

  • on the PRISM slides

  • take great strides to do that,

  • and I encourage them to continue.

  • CA: What more should they do?

  • ES: The biggest thing that an Internet company

  • in America can do today, right now,

  • without consulting with lawyers,

  • to protect the rights of users worldwide,

  • is to enable SSL web encryption

  • on every page you visit.

  • The reason this matters is today,

  • if you go to look at a copy of "1984" on Amazon.com,

  • the NSA can see a record of that,

  • the Russian intelligence service can see a record of that,

  • the Chinese service can see a record of that,

  • the French service, the German service,

  • the services of Andorra.

  • They can all see it because it's unencrypted.

  • The world's library is Amazon.com,

  • but not only do they not support encryption by default,

  • you cannot choose to use encryption

  • when browsing through books.

  • This is something that we need to change,

  • not just for Amazon, I don't mean to single them out,

  • but they're a great example.

  • All companies need to move

  • to an encrypted browsing habit by default

  • for all users who haven't taken any action

  • or picked any special methods on their own.

  • That'll increase the privacy and the rights

  • that people enjoy worldwide.

  • CA: Ed, come with me to this part of the stage.

  • I want to show you the next slide here. (Applause)

  • This is a program called Boundless Informant.

  • What is that?

  • ES: So, I've got to give credit to the NSA

  • for using appropriate names on this.

  • This is one of my favorite NSA cryptonyms.

  • Boundless Informant

  • is a program that the NSA hid from Congress.

  • The NSA was previously asked by Congress,

  • was there any ability that they had

  • to even give a rough ballpark estimate

  • of the amount of American communications

  • that were being intercepted.

  • They said no. They said, we don't track those stats,

  • and we can't track those stats.

  • We can't tell you how many communications

  • we're intercepting around the world,

  • because to tell you that would be

  • to invade your privacy.

  • Now, I really appreciate that sentiment from them,

  • but the reality, when you look at this slide is,

  • not only do they have the capability,

  • the capability already exists.

  • It's already in place.

  • The NSA has its own internal data format

  • that tracks both ends of a communication,