NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gave a rare public interview at SXSW this week, during which he discussed a variety of topics, including surveillance.
When asked whether we should fear surveillance from more, the government or Google, he argued that the government is unequivocally a bigger threat. “The government has the ability to deprive you of rights,” Snowden said in a live Interview with the ACLU, streamed through several protection measures (which made some of his answers inaudible).
“Companies can surveil you to sell you products, to sell your information to other companies, and that can be bad, but you have legal recourse,” he continued, noting that with Internet companies, “it’s typically voluntary contracts.” Governments, on the other hand, “have police powers, they have military powers, they have intelligence powers. They can literally kill you.”
When it comes to “big data,” Snowden said that consent is the biggest issue. Government often collects their data in secret. “The bottom line is that data should not be collected without people’s knowledge and consent.”