Former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden appeared in a televised Christmas message released to the British public by TV station Channel 4 on Wednesday. Watch video below.
Snowden has temporary asylum in Russia and recently told the Washington Post, “For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished. I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”
Snowden caused a firestorm, exposing the NSA’s data-mining in the U.S. and the international community, but only less than 1% of Snowden’s leaks have been published by the media.
Michael Morell, the former acting director of the CIA states that Snowden has access to what the CIA calls the “Black Budget.” It’s like a playbook, says Morell, revealing where the U.S. spends its money on its intelligence efforts. Morell says this could be damaging to the U.S. if the information falls into the wrong hands.
Some in the U.S. view him as a traitor. Others view him as a whistleblower and a patriot. But Snowden says that the debate sparked by his revelations of mass surveillance by the NSA could ultimately result in the end of the surveillance program.
Read Snowden’s alternative Christmas message transcript below:
Hi and Merry Christmas. I’m honored to have a 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 system of 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.