portugaltechnologywebsummit 19

Edward Snowden: “It is not data that is being exploited, It is people that are being exploited”

The US whistleblower and activist — who is most famous for copying and leaking highly classified information from the National Security Agency while working as a CIA employee and subcontractor — was speaking via teleconference on Monday at the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal. His video feed was coming from Russia, where he’s held political asylum since 2013.

Edward Snowden addressed the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, this evening (November 4). Snowden, a former NSA analyst, spoke via live link from Russia, who granted him temporary asylum after he released classified information from the US’ National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013.


Snowden’s leaks saw The Guardian newspaper report that intelligence services in the US and UK were tapping into the servers of internet firms to track the online communications of their citizens.

“What do you do when the most powerful institutions in society have become the least accountable to society?” Snowden asked as he spoke about his decision to reveal information about government surveillance.

Snowden’s comments primarily centred around data privacy and the future of the internet.

He called the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) a good start but said it should be about data collection rather than protection. In Snowden’s view, the basic system of connectivity to the internet needs to be changed.

“It is not data that is being exploited, it is people that are being exploited,” Snowden argued, insisting that all the browsers and service providers are institutions of power that people should not trust.

Check out the video below to watch the full conversation at Web Summit 2019 in Lisbon.


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