Assange urges SXSW audience to take action against surveillance totalitarianism

AUSTIN, Texas — Julian Assange during a Saturday address before SXSW said living in an Ecuadorian embassy is “a bit like prison” and lambasted the NSA, saying “it has grown to be a rogue agency.”

Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks addressed SXSW via internet on Saturday as he remains holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy, wanted by authorities in various countries.

The controversial Assange said global surveillance by governments is almost here and said additional leaks are forthcoming, but declined to give comments to avoid tipping off targets of the leaks. As crowds thinned out toward the end of his remarks, Assange suggested President Obama is powerless to stop the NSA from snooping on citizens.

“What would happen tomorrow if Barack Obama said, ‘I’m going to disband the NSA,'” Assange asked. “Well, on paper, he has that power. We all know that that is impossible. It’s simply impossible for that to occur.

“People would come up with lots of dirt, attack him in some political manner,” Assange added. “The National Security Agency, having intercepted all his information, has dirt on everyone. Congress, perhaps, would impeach him for some act or another. He would be found to have committed some criminal act. So, it is not possible. There does not appear to be proper civilian oversight.”

Assange urged the audience to take action.

“We have to do something about it; all of us have to do something about it,” Assange said. “You might think you’re small, insignificant, and how could you possible do something about this situation. What I’ve just described is a movement towards a form of surveillance totalitarianism. And we know once we have that, if history is any guide, we get the other forms of totalitarianism as well.”

About the author

Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits The Travel Trolley and Railfanning.org.