Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has given a short Christmas address, broadcast on the UK’s Channel 4 news, from his temporary asylum in Russia.
The 30-year-old American is wanted for taking hundreds of thousands of classified documents and is credited for starting a necessary debate about government surveillance in the digital, post-9/11 world.
His basic message is against mass surveillance, and he goes full Orwell: “A child born today will … never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves.”
Here’s the transcript:
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.
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