Appearing virtually at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2022 conference in Austin, Texas, Snowden who leaked classified information about National Security Agency (NSA) citizen surveillance in 2013, said: “I use bitcoin to use it. In 2013, bitcoin is what I used to pay servers anonymously.“
“I generally don’t encourage people to put their money into cryptocurrencies as a technology and that’s what distances me from a lot of people in the community“, he added.
Snowden also defended the cryptocurrency industry in the face of recent criticism from a group of tech experts who criticized cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology for countering industry lobbying efforts earlier this month.
Snowden said he believes the signatories deliberately misunderstand the cryptocurrency industry, recycling a number of legacy arguments that have been made repeatedly in the past.
“The letter is an argument for the status quo“, said Snowden. “There are so many ways to address all of their concerns. Anyone who signed the latter could understand this industry. They definitely should“.
Snowden did indeed express his admiration for Harvard lecturer Bruce Schneier, one of the key signatories of the letter, for his work on cryptography. However, he called many of Schneier’s co-signers “prolific public trolls“.
Progress in privacy protection
With respect to the current state of privacy on the Internet, Snowden believes that great progress has been made in encrypting the content of our communications. However, he says concerns remain about metadata, i.e. activity records that show that communications have taken place.
“Think of it like a van on the highway“said Mr. Snowden. “You can’t see who the passengers are, but you can still see where the van left from, where it arrived, how long it took – that kind of stuff“, he added.
“We must ensure that no one can observe this level“. Snowden argued. “We need to make more deals look the same, so everyone drives the same type of van and gets lost in the crowd“.
Snowden was charged with espionage by the United States and was granted asylum in Russia after fleeing in 2013. He was granted permanent residency there in 2020.
Asked how he feels about the war in Ukraine, Snowden was candid in saying he wishes it hadn’t happened and hopes it ends as soon as possible.
“I haven’t talked about the Ukrainian crisis in depth because I know my comments won’t be covered appropriately. They won’t cover the context“, did he declare. He added that he writes about the war and will publish his work one day.