‘No conception of privacy’: Snowden to deliver alternative TV Christmas message


Edward Snowden will deliver an ‘Alternative Christmas Message’ on British TV on Wednesday. In his pre-recorded address, the whistleblower calls for an end to mass spying by governments, stating that a child born today will have “no conception of privacy.”

Snowden, who is behind the biggest leak in the US National Security Agency (NSA)’s history, will speak to Brits on December 25 in Channel 4’s annual message. The address is an alternative to the Queen’s Christmas speech, which is shown by the nation’s other leading broadcasters each year.

The video was filmed in Russia, where Snowden has lived since being granted temporary asylum in August. The address will be his first television appearance since arriving in Moscow.

In excerpts from the address published by Channel 4, Snowden says that British author George Orwell’s warnings of data collection in his classic dystopian novel ‘1984’ are “nothing compared to what we have available today.”

“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,” the former NSA contractor says.

He goes on to say that “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,” Snowden adds.

The American whistleblower also points out the importance of the debate which his revelations have ignited. Snowden shared top secret NSA documents about widespread surveillance by American, British, and other governments on phone and internet communications earlier this year. The scandalous disclosures outraged the world – including many senior officials, such as Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff, who was allegedly spied on by the US government agency.

“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,” Snowden says.

The former NSA contractor said in an earlier interview with The Washington Post that he had “already won,” since the public has begun to address the issue of government surveillance. “For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” Snowden said.

Channel 4’s alternative to the Royal Christmas Message has been aired annually since 1993, giving a platform to diverse figures – many of whom have been deemed controversial. Brigitte Bardot delivered the message in 1995, Marge and Lisa Simpson in 2004, and then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2008.