Skip to main content

Snowden sees ghost of Christmas future: mass surveillance

By CNN Staff
updated 10:47 AM EST, Thu December 26, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NSA leaker Edward Snowden delivers Christmas message on British TV
  • Channel 4 has broadcast alternative to queen's traditional message since 1993
  • Snowden: "A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all"

(CNN) -- National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden spoke out against mass government surveillance in a televised address on Wednesday.

"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 said in Channel 4's annual Alternative Christmas Message to British viewers. It follows Queen Elizabeth II's traditional Christmas broadcast.

Channel 4's alternative address tradition, begun in 1993, has included addresses from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then the Iranian president; Ali G, a character played by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen; an injured Afghan war veteran; and a survivor of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In 2004, the cartoon character Marge from "The Simpsons" gave the greeting.

Snowden, a former NSA contractor, is living in asylum in Russia after leaking U.S. surveillance secrets to the news media earlier this year. He is wanted in the United States on espionage charges.

In his brief message, Snowden asserted that the types of surveillance imagined in George Orwell's "1984" 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," he said. "A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all."

"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," he said.

5 takeaways from Edward Snowden's Washington Post interview

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT