STRASBOURG, France - Fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden said on Tuesday there should be an international agreement on data collection to protect against the mass surveillance of citizens.
Speaking to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg via video link, he said a set of "common standards" would be needed to prevent widespread surveillance programmes like that carried out by the US National Security Agency.
The whistleblower, who lives in Moscow after being granted asylum by Russia, was speaking to officials from across Europe who are investigating mass surveillance.
"I believe the international community should agree to new common standards of behaviour, perhaps a Convention on mass surveillance," he told the council.
"We need to develop international standards to protect against the routine and substantial abuse of this technology, abuses that are ongoing today.
"This is not just a problem for the United States and the European Union: this is in fact a global problem", he said.
Snowden, now aged 30, said that the system developed by the NSA was used not just for the prevention of terrorism, but to "follow people, even for non-violent offences" and "without the issue of any judicial warrant".
Such monitoring "represents the most significant new threat to civil rights in modern times," he told the council.