Snowden calls for 'accountability' in surveillance chat

AUSTIN, TX --Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden says the NSA is "setting fire to the future of the Internet" with surveillance practices he first revealed last year.

During a chat at the SXSW festival Monday, Snowden addressed the NSA's tactics, discussed in an investigative series by The Guardian last summer.

Snowden says elements are in place for an oversight system to track these practices, but questions whether there is any interest in this type of monitoring. "We need a watchdog that watches Congress," he says.

Snowden also championed the use of encryption to secure users, noting that the security measure needs to be treated as a "basic protection" for citizens and not as a "black art."

At the open of the SXSW festival, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Ks., urged organizers to cancel the talk. "Rewarding Mr. Snowden's behavior in this way encourages the very lawlessness he exhibited," said Pompeo in a letter to SXSW organizers.

Over the weekend, SXSW 2014 delivered insight on the rise of technology in the health industry, while one NBA owner shared his take on the controversial currency Bitcoin.

FULL COVERAGE | See all the latest and greatest from SXSW from USA TODAY's coverage

Here's a look at the five things we learned after day 3:


We've got smartphone apps to play our music, connect with our friends or kill time with a game or two. But apps will soon tackle more serious endeavors, such as helping you lose weight or even avoid a heart attack.

The collaboration between health and tech is among the hot topics at SXSW. With companies building more medical sensors, expect the health gadget business to boom.

Ideas range from smoking apps that encourage users to quit by leveraging their contact lists or breath analyzers that can catch lung cancer.

As Dr. Leslie Saxon, cardiologist at USC's Center for Body Computing, tells USA TODAY: "There's no more compelling app than one for your health or (the health of) your loved ones."


Air travelers are likely familiar with Gogo, the company behind the Inflight service that provides fliers with access to the Internet.

The company is moving one step further by testing a service to let fliers make phone calls from their cellphones. USA TODAY's Ed Baig tried out the service in a demo at SXSW and said call quality is about the same as your average cellphone call.

But do fliers really want to hear all these phone conversations while in the air? Gogo Vice President Brad Jaehn says the option won't be available in North America any time soon but could appear on international flights.

"Outside of the United States, there is some demand for voice calling on an airplane," says Jaehn.

Gogo voice calls are expected to roll out on flights this year.


Social media management tool HootSuite is pushing to perform a similar service for businesses, according to USA TODAY tech columnist John Shinal.

The tool lets users control multiple social media accounts such as Facebook or Twitter in one platform. At SXSW, the company revealed it will include a service to allow small- and medium-sized businesses to manage marketing budgets.

Hootsuite will roll out the enterprise feature in the next few months.


At SXSW, attendees never know when a party will pop up.

Tech sites such as Funny or Die and Pinterest as well as streaming music site Spotify have taken over houses and venues in Austin and transformed them into party pads where they can share more about their services.

Comedy site Funny or Die, for instance, is hosting the cast of Neighbors, a film starring Seth Rogan and Zac Efron, as well as social network Facebook.

"They come here because they want to sit down with the Facebook team and learn how to connect with their audience," says Facebook's Dustin Bramell on working with Funny or Die.


SXSW attendees have to find beverages to wash down all the barbecue and fajitas. What better way to do it than with Fire and Blood.

Brewery Ommegang worked with HBO to craft a brew for SXSW themed after the hit series Game of Thrones. The beer Fire and Blood is a red ale that pays homage to the series' red wedding from last season.

SXSW visitors can try the beer at a Game of Thrones exhibition through Thursday.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment