Channel 4 has a reputation for delivering an “alternative Christmas message” every year as a counterpoint to the Queen’s annual Christmas address, and 2013 is no different: it tapped NSA leaker Edward Snowden to speak directly to UK citizens about privacy issues and, according to Channel 4, “why he believes mass indiscriminate surveillance by governments of their people is wrong.”
“A CHILD BORN TODAY WILL GROW UP WITH NO CONCEPTION OF PRIVACY AT ALL.”
In the brief, sub-two-minute video, Snowden — who is still in Russia after traveling there from Hong Kong earlier this year — says that “Great Britain’s George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of information,” a reference to the dystopian Nineteen Eighty-Four whose parallels to modern-day mass surveillance have become increasingly alarming as the full extent of the NSA’s capabilities have come to light. “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,” he says.
Snowden has been more visible in recent days, delivering an extensive interview yesterday with The Washington Post effectively a half-year after the first classified documents from his trove began to leak. “If [the government] really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying,” Snowden says in his Channel 4 video, closing by wishing viewers a merry Christmas.