SXSW Secret Agents

SXSW Interactive 2014 adds most controversial speaker yet to lineup

SXSW Interactive 2014 adds most controversial speaker yet to lineup

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden comes to SXSW Interactive on March 10. Photo courtesy of The Guardian

Move over, Julian Assange. There's an even bigger name heading to SXSW Interactive this year: Edward Snowden. The former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower will speak March 10 via teleconference with Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The conversation will center around surveillance and online privacy, a topic that will likely be a hot-button issue at this year's conference.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the panel is that Snowden has agreed to take questions directly from the audience.

As the ACLU press release points out, this is Snowden's "first conversation in front of an audience since his disclosures began making global headlines last year." The classified documents Snowden released made him not only an enemy of the state in his home country, but also rocked relationships abroad, most notably with Germany after it was revealed that the U.S. government may have tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's private cellphone.

Also moderating will be Snowden's legal counsel, undoubtedly there to ensure that Snowden does not further incriminate himself as he attempts to seek clemency from the U.S. government, something the Obama administration has repeatedly said it will not grant. Perhaps the most exciting part of the panel is that Snowden has agreed to take questions directly from the audience.

"A Virtual Conversation with Edward Snowden," which we predict will be the hottest ticket during SXSW Interactive, takes place at Exhibit Hall 5 on the first floor of the Austin Convention Center. It is open to Interactive, Gold or Platinum badge holders only.

For those who can't be there in person, the Texas Tribune will be livestreaming the event.