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Robot helps Snowden present at CES

Read time 1min 30sec
Suitable's Beam helped Edward Snowden make an appearance at CES 2016.
Suitable's Beam helped Edward Snowden make an appearance at CES 2016.

Edward Snowden appeared at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week, through a kind of robot designed for remote communication.

The former NSA contractor, famous for publicising government secrets about citizen surveillance, has been living in Russia under temporary asylum since 2013, when US federal prosecutors charged him with violating the US Espionage Act of 1917, and with theft of US and foreign government property.

Snowden spoke to CES attendees last week via Suitable's Beam, a screen on wheels that allows the user to participate in a video chat session and remotely move the screen around.

While Beam is designed for boosting mobility and flexibility in the workplace by facilitating remote meetings, Snowden put forward that the technology can be used for political subversion.

"The US government basically cancelled my passport, but I'm sitting here in Las Vegas with you guys at CES," he said. "This is... the power of technology... The FBI can't arrest a robot."

Yet "technology is both a tool for oppression and a tool for liberation," he added, bringing up the topics of government surveillance and bulk data collection he is commonly credited for throwing into public concern.

"They don't really think of the security of these things very much," he said of the numerous futuristic gadgets on display at the convention.

According to The Guardian, Snowden's lawyer says Snowden was not compensated by Suitable for the appearance, "but he has benefited from the technology".

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