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Snowden wants to build anti-surveillance tech

NSA leaker Edward Snowden, charged by the US with spying and still holding out in Russia sans a passport, has a new career plan.

Edward Snowden speaks to the Hope X conference on Saturday. Screenshot by CNET

Edward Snowden plans to develop and promote anti-surveillance technology to hamper government spying across the globe, the former National Security Agency contractor told a group of hackers on Saturday.

Snowden, who leaked confidential documents detailing the extensive surveillance activities of the US government's NSA and the UK government's GCHQ, spoke to the HOPE X conference in NYC via a video link from Moscow.

He asked the hacking community to channel its resources into developing anti-surveillance technologies that will make government spying more difficult and said he plans to spend much of his future time doing the same.

"We the people -- you the people, you in this room right now -- have both the means and the capability to improve the future by encoding our rights into programs and protocols by which we rely every day...and that's what a lot of my future work is going to be involved in, and I hope you'll join me in making that a reality," he said.

Snowden also defended his actions in relation to leaking confidential documents from the US intelligence agency to the media. He said most Americans have little concept of how wide-ranging their government's surveillance activities are, but they "have a right as Americans and as members of the global community to know the broad outlines of government policies that significantly impact on our lives."

"If we're going to have a democracy and an enlightened citizenry, if we're going to provide the consent of the governed, we have to know what is going on, we have to know the broad outlines of a policy and we can't have the government shut us out from every action that they're doing," Snowden said.

Snowden is currently living in Russia after fleeing the United States last year. The former NSA contractor's Russian visa expires at the end of July. He former contractor has requested an extension. Snowden did not comment Saturday whether his visa has been extended.

Charged under the Espionage Act, Snowden told The Guardian last week that he doesn't believe he can have a fair trial if he returns to the US.

This story originally posted as "Snowden plans to work on anti-surveillance technology" on ZDNet.