Snowden spoke remotely from Russia, where he received asylum when he fled the United States last year after leaking classified government surveillance documents to journalists including Glenn Greenwald.
His 11 a.m. CT appearance at SXSW, a technology and music festival in Austin, Tex., were his most public comments since the leaks. The Texas Tribune livestreamed the Snowden event.
Snowden, who appeared in front of a greenscreen displaying the U.S. Constitution, explained that he chose popular tech confab SXSW as the platform for his talk because "the tech community ... they're the folks who can really fix things, who can enforce our rights."
Snowden characterized the NSA's surveillance program, as well as similar programs from governments around the globe, as "setting fire to the future of the Internet."
"The people in this room are all the firefighters," Snowden said, addressing the SXSW audience. "We need you to help us fix this."
Read more: http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/snowden-nsa-set-fire-internet-techies-are-firefighters-n48836
Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.