A packed exhibit hall got an earful from Edward Snowden through a Google Hangout passing through seven proxies! The keys to protecting the public from government surveillance, he said, is encryption and civilian oversight. The world’s most famous whistle  blower has said it before, but reiterated it for the SXSW crowd, that end-to-end encryption would go a long way towards protecting user data from both spying and attackers.

Data encryption for the average user is more than a chore. It requires installation and correct configuration of software like PGP and Tor. These methods aren’t perfect though. More importantly, designing systems to be safe, instead of accessible for surveillance and data mining. Incidentally, it’s the middle-ground where data is decrypted and mined before being re-encrypted that’s especially problematic. Given that the mining is so profitable, there’s less incentive for companies to assist on that side. Sigh…

Snowden says encryption and oversight are key to protecting the public from surveillance.