AUSTIN, Texas — Wikileaks founder Julian Assange warned a crowd of attendees at SXSW today about the growing threat of police states in many of the world’s most powerful countries.
Assange, who has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 avoiding various criminal charges, joined the crowd virtually via a Skype video call to answer questions and discuss his thoughts on the lack of transparency by intelligence agencies.
While most of what he spoke about wasn’t new, Assange did offer some colorful commentary about new political news publication The Intercept. Assange said it was interesting to see what the publication represents, specifically due to founder Pierre Omidyar.
“What I find interesting about the Intercept is Pierre Omidyar, who has all the money in the world at his disposal and free to do just about anything he’d like, someone who has liberty as a result of money, lawyers to take care of legal troubles, private investigators to take care of intelligence related problems, who has donations to congress to take care of political problems,” Assange explained. “But despite all that money, I believe that Pierre Omidyar has genuinely seen that there is not even liberty for people who have $8 million anymore.”
Assange said the threat of government intelligence agencies like the NSA is now a threat to billionaire American industrialists. (Whether Omidyar shares this opinion is another story all together.)
He also explained that even with everything that’s been leaked through his publication Wikileaks and from activists like Edward Snowden, it still represents about one percent of everything that’s being collection by U.S. security agencies.
“The amount of information gathered has been doubling every 18 months,” Assange said, adding that he believes the ability for them to track everyone through surveillance is almost available, too. Obviously, a vast swath of the population is uncomfortable with this, which is what’s sparking pushback from groups utilizing the Internet to organize.