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Snowden at SXSW: Mind your privacy

Fugitive analyst Edward Snowden wants technology companies to recognize their role in making online communications more secure.

Via Google hangout, Snowden addressed a panel at the South by Southwest technology conference Monday.

"Snowden came here with a purpose, this is kind of his audience if there is one," said Liz Gannes, senior editor at Re/code.

"I think what people in the technology community agree with is that the disclosures he's come up with have driven material changes in how secure Google and Facebook and Yahoo and all these companies are. They do a lot more encryption now, they're a lot more aware of some of the holes and chinks in their armour between their data centers, for example, and they're making moves to make their products more secure," said Gannes.

All these services are ad-supported, so as long as you sign up or sign an agreement on a site, you are allowing these companies to look through your information and use that information to support their business.

"Perhaps in the future, we'll start paying for services because privacy is their core selling point," said Gannes. "I think Edward Snowden was trying to push that forward and encourage that work."

At the conference, Snowden said, "It's not that they can't collect any data, it's that the data should only be held as long as necessary for the operation of the business."

He added: "Whether you're Google or Facebook, data can be collected but in a responsible way, without putting users at risk."

(Read more: Snowden: US is 'setting fire' to the Internet)

As for whether paying for privacy will actually happen, or will work, is yet to be known. "Just because you pay for it, doesn't mean its going to work either," said Gannes.

Disclosure: CNBC's parent NBC Universal is an investor in Re/code's parent Revere Digital, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.

—By CNBC's Christina Medici Scolaro.