Snowden, appearing via video from Russia where he has been granted temporary asylum, and other members of the American Civil Liberties Union panel discussed ways the tech community could counter digital bulk surveillance programs Snowden revealed last year in leaks of National Security Agency files to the media, the Washington Post reported.
"We need you to help us fix this," Snowden said.
Both Snowden and ACLU technologist Christopher Soghoian weren't overwhelmed by data-protection options available to consumers.
"Many of the communications tools we rely on are not as secure as they could be," Soghoian said, because "security is often an afterthought, if it is a thought at all" as the tools are developed.
"His disclosures have improved Internet security," Soghoian said of Snowden's leaks on NSA's massive surveillance operations while noting accelerated moves to end-to-end encryption and other security practices because of the revelations.
"The bottom line is that encryption does work," Snowden said.
Ask why it wasn't as bad for large corporations to have access to user data as it was for government, Snowden companies can monitor data to sell products or information to others, but consumers have legal options, USA Today said.
"The government has the ability to deprive you of rights," he said.
Snowden also criticized the effectiveness of the NSA's bulk collection activities, citing findings of two executive branch reviews and the program's failure to catch the Boston Marathon bombers or the Underwear Bomber.
"We got nothing," Snowden said, "and two White House investigations confirmed that."