Google and the government were in the crosshairs as whistleblower Edward Snowden made a rare public appearance on Monday (10) to address the SXSW conference from exile in Russia – ironically using Google+ Hangouts.

The computer specialist and former NSA contractor took part in a conversation moderated by the ACLU and talk turned inevitably to data security.

When asked whether he considered Google a greater threat than the government, Snowden said the latter represented the more potent risk as it controlled a panoply of powers.

Snowden said software developers needed to build more secure communications methods and urged users of the internet everywhere to takes steps to defend themselves against surveillance.

The whistleblower stressed that his action in leaking thousands of classified documents last year had improved US national security and went on to say he would do it all over again.

  • FilmBuff has picked up Tommy Pallotta’s Last Hijack from Match Factory and will release the documentary in theatres and on demand this summer. The film premiered in Berlin and receives its North American premiere at SXSW on Monday (10).