Meet the Press   |  January 19, 2014

Reddit Co-Founder on Privacy in America

Alexis Ohanian visits Meet the Press to discuss the president's recent remarks and the balance of national security with personal privacy.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> different perspective from a privacy advocate also part of that digital privacy movement and an out spoken critic of government spying. alexis ohanian is the co-founder of red dit. the users post anything from articles to images to random questions and thoughts. stories then become popular with a six up or down vote from users. he's also the author of the book without their permission how the 21st century will be made not managed. he joins us now. welcome to "meet the press."

>> thank you for having me.

>> i think of this as a bigger debate about the future of privacy in america and what i just heard dianne feinstein say is we're going to having to give up some privacy because we still operate as in the space of the great satan. she said we face a new level of viciousness. so to you and others who are opposed to these programs, she's saying that's got to be more important.

>> yeah, and to me that is a false choice . in fact, i remember hearing president obama campaigning on the false choice , the bush administration was positioning when they were trying to do this very same thing. i think it's really important for us to realize that it's possible for us to have security while also not overstepping our right to privacy .

>> can we do it without -- i mean, as i've listen toed to you and others who oppose these programs, the thing is the bulk collection. it's all the mate data. if the government committed to having a huge database with our information, now, look, there has not been evidence of abuse even if you think that mere act is abusive, the collecting all of that data.

>> indeed. but i would not liking to have that hanging over my head . i think it is absolutely possible for the nsa to do their job without the bulk collection of america 's phone records. and i think if these leaders believe that to be true, then they would encourage or at least be looking forward to a proper congressional investigation. the sort of thing that will actually get us some answers that has subpoena powers that has the ability to sift through and actually give the american people the transparency we deserve.

>> but aren't we living, even snowden talked about in that a child growing up today is not going to really understand what the concept of privacy is. but don't you also turn toward some of the leading tech companies in the world that were started here in america , amazon and google, and look at what they're doing to compromise our privacy , not onlien compiling data but sharing that data, selling ta data? is that just as much of a concern as what the government's doing? oo.

>> i think you pointed it out earlier. there are certainly platforms that we go into knowing that we are sort of giving up our privacy because we're sharing some tweet with the world. but there are plenty of others where we go in with an expectation of privacy . that's a contract we have with our service providers . i think one of the strongest points that hasn't been made yet is the fact i believe forester estimated about $180 billion is going to be lost in revenue because countries and citizens around the world no longer want to do business was american companies because they no longer trust that their private data is safe. that's -- i'm an entrepreneur, i'm an investor. there's real business costs on top of the very important civil liberties costs.

>> no doubt a younger generation you have americans too is going to be looking at this politically, and this is going to be a big issue in our politics, don't you think?

>> absolutely. and mark my words, i think as mr. elseburg recently pointed out in a red dit ama, i believe history will look back on edward snowden as a whistleblower.

>> and that debate's going to rage on, as well. alexis ohanian, happy to have your perspective.

>> thank you for having me,