March 10, 2014
In front of the backdrop of an enlarged copy of Article I of the U.S. Constitution, Edward Snowden via a Google Hangout video feed today said encryption works and represents "the defense against the dark arts in the digital realm," but that it needs improvement.
Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who accessed and leaked reams of classified documents detailing NSA surveillance programs, answered questions as part of a panel hosted by American Civil Liberties Union executives at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas.
"Encryption does work. It's the defense against the dark arts in the digital realm," he said. He also noted that the federal government still does not know which NSA documents he took from the agency "because encryption works."
Snowden, who was connected to the panel digitally via multiple proxies to protect his whereabouts in Russia, also called for academia to come up with solutions to strengthen encryption now that random number generator algorithms are reportedly being compromised.
Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy & Technology Project as well as Snowden's legal advisor, hosted the panel, which included Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist of the ACLU. In reference to allegations that the NSA had undue influences on an encryption algorithm standard, Soghoian said the news of the NSA allegedly subverting a random number generation algorithm has "radicalized" some members of the encryption community who "feel they were lied to" and can make changes to improve encryption.
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