WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange took the stage at SXSW Interactive on Saturday — via Skype, at least, where his name showed up as “Bruce Willis” — to criticize government surveillance as part of a series of conversations on privacy happening this year.
His appearance on two giant screens was greeted with resounding applause and some cheers. But his location in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he is holed up to avoid extradition to Sweden on allegations of rape and other offenses, soon made for a difficult conversation, modern technology notwithstanding.
Interviewer Benjamin Palmer of digital agency The Barbarian Group could no longer make himself heard in London after about fifteen minutes, and so had to make do with alternating between typing questions via the chat box and letting Mr. Assange wax poetic about his views on the increasingly “totalitarian” world we live in. Many of the topics that Mr. Palmer previously told Ad Age he planned to cover, such as internet culture on a global scale and how Mr. Assange’s work has impacted media organizations, weren’t really covered.