Edward Snowden has recorded this year's "Alternative Christmas Message" for Great Britain's Channel 4. The video is brief -- lasting just 1:43 -- with Snowden directly addressing "you and your family" about the state of mass surveillance and the reasons for why privacy matters now and in the future. We've transcribed the recording for your convenience below.
The message was posted to Channel 4's website today and will air on TV tomorrow, Christmas Day. In it, the famous former NSA computer analysis contractor and whistleblower observed that our transatlantic surveillance state is far more pervasive than the fictional surveillance state of George Orwell's 1984, pointing to our GPS and mobile devices as examples.
He also delivered a note on the future.
"A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all," Snowden said. In explaining why this is "a problem", he didn't recoil from getting a little philosophical: "Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be."
Snowden concluded with a call to end mass surveillance, adding a bit of friendly practical advice to any government that might be listening in on his public Christmas message: "If [a government] really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying."
Alternative Christmas Message 2013
Hi, and Merry Christmas. I'm honored to have the chance to speak with you and your family this year.
Recently, we learned that our governments, working in concert, have created a system of worldwide mass surveillance, watching everything we do.
Great Britain's George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of information. The types of collection in the book -- microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us -- are nothing compared to what we have available today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go.
Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person. A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They'll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves -- an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought. And that's a problem, because privacy matters. Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.
The conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it. Together, we can find a better balance. End mass surveillance. And remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.
For everyone out there listening, thank you, and Merry Christmas.
SOURCE: Channel 4