During a live chat with internet followers today, Edward Snowden said, "Not all spying is bad," when one user asked about proper extent of spying programs.
Snowden's responses rambled a bit, with references to bathtub falls and grandmothers in Missouri, but he did admit not all spying programs are bad:
"Not all spying is bad. The biggest problem we face right now is the new technique of indiscriminate mass surveillance, where governments are seizing billions and billions and billions of innocents’ communication every single day. This is done not because it’s necessary — after all, these programs are unprecedented in US history, and were begun in response to a threat that kills fewer Americans every year than bathtub falls and police officers — but because new technologies make it easy and cheap.
"I think a person should be able to dial a number, make a purchase, send an SMS, write an email, or visit a website without having to think about what it’s going to look like on their permanent record. Particularly when we now have courts, reports from the federal government, and even statements from Congress making it clear these programs haven’t made us any more safe, we need to push back."
In the first 75 minutes of his live web chat, Snowden answered nine rather sympathetic questions, though he did respond to a few barbs from the audience.
"With all due respect to Mark Hosenball, the Reuters report that put this out there was simply wrong. I never stole any passwords, nor did I trick an army of co-workers."
Of course there were thousands of tweets that were ignored by the event hosts:
The chat was advertised to last one hour, but two minutes before the deadline Snowden said he would "continue into overtime" and continues to chat with participants.
According to the support site run by The Courage Foundation this was the first Snowden live chat since June 2013. Snowden’s full responses are found in plain text on the Free Snowden Web site.
Snowden answered a total of 13 questions during his live Internet chat with Twitter participants, interacting online for a little under two hours total. He ended the chat with these thoughts:
"I’m going to stop here. My deepest thanks to everyone who sent questions, and whether or not we agree on where the lines should be drawn, I encourage you to contact your members of congress and tell them how you feel about mass surveillance. This is a global problem, and the first step to tackling it is by working together to fix it at home."