Former CIA employee argues that mass government surveillance is wrong and that privacy matters
Whistleblower Edward Snowden has given this year’s Alternative Christmas Message on Channel 4.
He follows figures such as Ali G, Sharon Osbourne and Baroness Lawrence in giving the festive address which is the station’s answer to the Queen’s message to the nation.
Snowden, who revealed the mass surveillance programmes organised by the US and other governments, discussed the importance of privacy.
The controversial figure argued that mass indiscriminate surveillance by governments of their people is wrong.
He said: “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.”
Snowden will say a better balance has to be found between spying and surveillance
He added: “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, 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.”
He will end on a positive note though, suggesting: “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.”
Dorothy Byrne, Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4, says: “Edward Snowden’s decision to reveal the extent of surveillance programmes was one of the most significant news events of the year.
“The information which he has placed in the public domain raises serious questions for democratic society.
“This is an opportunity for our viewers to hear from him directly and judge for themselves what he has to say.”
You can watch more of the most memorable Alternative Christmas Messages from the past 20 years here.
* The 2013 Alternative Christmas Message airs at 4.15pm on Channel 4 on Christmas Day
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