National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden delivered a grim Christmas message, saying a child born today "will grow up with no conception of privacy at all" and will "never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves."
"Recently we learned that our governments, working in concert, have created a system of worldwide system of mass surveillance watching everything we do," Snowden said in a prerecorded address aired Wednesday on Britain's Channel 4. "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."
Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden poses for a photo during an interview in an undisclosed location in December 2013 in Moscow. (Getty Images/Barton Gellman)
Snowden was delivering Channel 4's annual "Alternative Christmas Message," a slot that has previously gone to then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and even the fictional Marge Simpson, according to the Associated Press. It's meant as a parody or alternative to the "Royal Christmas Message" from the queen.
"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," Snowden said. "And that’s a problem, because privacy matters; privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be."
Channel 4 said Snowden's message is his first television broadcast since he arrived in Moscow, where he has been granted temporary asylum since he fled the U.S. over his actions leaking a multitude of documents detailing the NSA's surveillance activities earlier this year.
"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," he said.
Watch part of Snowden's message via CNN:
Watch Snowden's full message at Britain's Channel 4.