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Edward Snowden speaks via video

NSA leaker Edward Snowden, speaking via live video conference Monday, told a packed audience at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival that he had no regrets and acted because he believed the U.S. Constitution had been "violated on a massive scale."

The former NSA contractor, who remains in Moscow living in temporary asylum, faces felony charges in the U.S. after revealing the agency's mass surveillance program by leaking thousands of classified documents to media outlets.

Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, spoke to Snowden from the Austin event along with Snowden's legal adviser, the ACLU's Ben Wizner.

Snowden touched on a number of issues in the hour-long conversation. He dispensed advice on how U.S. citizens can keep their web-surfing activities more private by using a free service called Tor, which encrypts web traffic. He also called on the technology industry to create more software and services that help guard individual privacy.

He appeared to have no regrets about exposing the U.S. government's surveillance methods.

"And when it comes to would I do this again, the answer is absolutely yes," he told the audience.

"I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and I saw that the Constitution was violated on a massive scale," he added.

The ACLU offered a live blog of Snowden's talk on its website and the Texas Tribune's website hosted a live video stream.

Fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spoke at the SXSW conference in a similar manner on Saturday. Assange is living in asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

Documents released over the past year by Snowden have revealed that the NSA sweeps up millions of Americans' phone and Internet records. The subsequent controversy has led President Barack Obama to ask agencies and Congress to consider some reforms.

On Monday, Germany dismissed a claim by Snowden that it had buckled under American demands that it undermine privacy rights for German citizens.

Snowden, in a statement published Friday, told the European Parliament that Germany was pressured to modify its legislation on wiretapping and other forms of lawful telecoms surveillance. He didn't elaborate on how the laws were changed or when, but suggested it was standard practice for the NSA to instruct friendly nations on how to "degrade the legal protections of their countries' communications."

Last week, the top U.S. military officer said it would take two years of study and billions of dollars to overcome the loss of security to military operations and tactics that were revealed in the massive stash of documents taken by Snowden.

The Canadian Press

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