Snowden spoke Monday by video link at the SXSW interactive festival in Austin, Texas.
The former National Security Agency contractor is accused of leaking thousands of classified documents. He participated in a discussion on surveillance, online privacy and the impact of the NSA's spy programs in the tech industry.
"If we're not informed, we can't consent to these policies. Right now, my thinking, and I believe the majority's thinking, is that the government has the ability to deprive you of rights," said Snowden.
U.S. officials announced plans to set up a sweeping electronic monitoring system, to keep tabs on the online behavior of the millions of federal employees with secret clearances.