Snowden Delivers 'Alternative Christmas Message,' Calls For End to Spying
Traditionally, it's the Queen of England whose message is picked apart after her annual Christmas Speech. But this year, Edward Snowden, the Santa Claus of NSA secrets, took the spotlight with his Alternative Christmas Message on the UK's Channel 4. (The Alternative Message normally follows the Queen's to provide a counterpoint for those who aren't royally-inclined.) Snowden's short speech gave the programming line-up a holiday dash of that little anti-authoritarian something extra: Snowden compared the current surveillance climate to something, if not Orwellian, then hyper-Orwellian.
“A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all," Snowden said in his message (you can read the full text here). "They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalysed 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.”
But because it's Christmas, Snowden decided to end on a positive note.
"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," Snowden said. "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."
Other notable Channel 4 Alternative Christmas Message appearances have included Marge from the Simpsons, a survivor of 9/11, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ali G (of Sacha Baron Cohen fame), and Reverend Jesse Jackson.
This was Snowden's first TV appearance since he was granted asylum in Russia, and he seems to be doing well. Snowden said he'd "already won" his battle in an interview with the Washington Post published Monday. He declared his mission accomplished because his leaked documents ignited a public debate about the extent of surveillance and, to some extent, what the reach of government should be in public and private life.
The effects of that debate are already becoming clear: There was the recent NSA panel review, which ended determinedly not in the agency's favor, and the recent ruling that found that NSA's phone-tapping of American citizens would likely not be found Constitutional in higher courts.