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(Long Island, NY) Each year since 1993, Britain’s Channel 4 airs it’s “Alternative Christmas Message” to the nation; an alternative as it runs as a counterpoint to the Royal Christmas Message by Queen Elizabeth II.
The Alternative Christmas Message is broadcasted on Christmas Day and is replayed in the evening and historically featuring humorous deliveries, controversial celebrities and/or otherwise notable figures such as Sacha Baron Cohen (Ali G), Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sharon Osbourne, Adam Hills, Brigitte Bardot and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran.
According to the Guardian Newspaper, in 2009, the 3 pm screening attracted 500,000 viewers and the 8.50 pm broadcast drew 400,000.
In the short 2 minute message, Ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden urged for a need to end mass surveillance and compared United States surveillance programs to the film by George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, also known as 1984, saying surveillance technology described in the film are “nothing compared to what we have today”.
The entire transcript as well as the video is below:
Hi, and Merry Christmas. I’m honored to have the chance to speak with you and your family this year.
Recently, we learned that our governments, working in concert, have created a system of worldwide mass surveillance, watching everything we do.
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. 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. Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.
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.
For everyone out there listening, thank you, and Merry Christmas.
Edward Joseph Snowden, 30, is currently in Russia and has been awarded temporary asylum. He is wanted in the United States for charges related to the revealing of up to 200,000 classified United States government documents. He has been charged with Theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorized person. Snowden’s release of classified material has been called the most significant leak in US history.
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