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Snowden Talks to SXSW About Data Collection
By: Jessica Cherok
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American whistle-blower Edward Snowden spoke via Google Hangout at South by Southwest (SXSW) from his exile in Russia. He, and his fellow panelist, made weighty points about the amount of information being collected by tech giants.

According to Snowden, people need to be more concerned with the amount of personal data collected by federal agencies because the government can limit individuals’ rights. He went on to say, “They can kill you, they can jail you, they can surveil you.”

It’s not that no information is appropriate to be collected. In fact, in order to receive digital services consumers have to give up a certain amount of their privacy. And knowing about users helps the companies create better digital experiences. However, Snowden pointed out during the talk, “It’s not that you shouldn’t collect the data, but you should only collect the data and hold it as long as necessary.”

It’s the length of retention that makes many people nervous. Data stored for long periods has a higher risk of being compromised. Not to mention, if there is no reason to keep the information, just hanging on to it for the sake of hanging on to it seems unwise.

Snowden did offer hope, however. He put it to technologists to fix digital security and privacy issues, and that continued discussion will raise the awareness amongst the public.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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