Edward Snowden Delivers Surprise Talk, Poses for Selfies at TED2014

Selfie with Snowden Ted2014

Selfie with Snowden Ted2014

Day Two of the TED2014 conference brought one very special (and surprising) guest: NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Appearing on stage via a telepresence robot he controlled through his laptop in Russia, Snowden emphasized the need for an open government and privacy in our lives, especially online. After his talk Snowden continued to wheel around the TED conference, posing for selfies with other TED2014 guests.

Liberty and Security Are Not Mutually Exclusive

On stage Snowden spoke with Chris Anderson, curator of TED, about why we should care about surveillance and our need to fight for an open internet. We have the right to privacy, and the government shouldn’t be able to use anything we say against us now or in the future, Snowden said. Just because we trust our government not to misuse our data today doesn’t mean we should surrender our personal information to them for eternity:

In democratic societies around the world, people should be able to pick up the phone, call family, send text messages to loved one, travel by train, buy an airline ticket — without wondering how those events will look to an agent of government, possibly not even your government but one years in the future…Trusting any government authority with the entirety of human communications without any oversight is too great a temptation to be ignored.

Snowden stressed that both corporations and consumers need to fight back against governments’ guarded data collection programs. Companies, for one, should enable SSL web encryption on every one of their pages to prevent intelligence groups from around the world from accessing consumers’ browsing habits. Consumers should also work to maintain an open and neutral Web. Snowden agreed with Tim Berners-Lee that we need a Magna Carta for the internet:

For people who’ve seen the open internet, it’s up to us to preserve that for the next generation to enjoy. If we don’t change things, if we don’t stand up to make the changes we need to do to make the Internet safe for us and everyone, we’ll lose that.

You can watch Snowden’s talk in its entirety above.

Selfies With Snowden

After his talk Snowden interacted with other TED2014 guests and started a new trend: #SelfieWithSnowden. As Snowden steered his robot through the conference halls, attendees stopped to pose with him in front of their camera phones:

For many it appears taking a picture with the man in a screen made their day!

What do you think of Snowden’s appearance at TED2014?

Featured image by Bret Hartman

Lauren Mobertz

By Lauren Mobertz

Lauren is the former managing editor for DashBurst. One part geek, one part urban nomad, she is constantly scouting for the latest tech and world news. In the evenings you'll find Lauren running in strange places or attempting to dance salsa.