By Jennifer Martinez - 07/08/13 09:17 PM EDT
"And they give NSA direct access that they don't need to oversee so they can't be held liable for it. I think that's a dangerous capability for anybody to have, but particularly any organization that's demonstrated time and time again that they'll work to shield themselves from oversight," he added.
Snowden's comments during the interview run counter to tech companies' denials about being involved in Prism. One of the looming questions about the surveillance program leaks is how Snowden defines "direct access" to tech companies' systems.
After documents about the classified surveillance program were leaked by Snowden, tech companies have vehemently denied any prior knowledge about Prism and say they have never given the government the ability to tap directly into their servers to mine for data. Google, Facebook and other tech companies waged an aggressive public relations campaign in the wake of the revelations to tell their side of the story and regain users' trust in their products.
Tech companies have said they only hand over user data to the government if compelled to by a court order that asks for a specific piece of information. In some cases, tech companies say they don't comply with the orders because the government's requests for information are incomplete.
Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook and Apple released figures on the number of government requests they receive for user information. Going one step farther, Google and Microsoft filed petitions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that ask for permission to publish statistics on the number of national security requests it receives for user information.
In the video interview, Snowden said he felt compelled to release classified information about the NSA surveillance programs, in part, because they ran counter to his beliefs and they intruded on people's interactions online.
"I don't want to live in world where everything that I say, everything I do…every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded, and that's not something I'm willing to support," Snowden said. "That's not something I'm willing to build and that's not something I'm willing to live under."