Out of London today, former N.S.A. contractor, Edward J. Snowden delivered his Christmas message to the world in a plea to end mass surveillance, arguing that the electronic monitoring he has exposed surpasses anything imagined by George Orwell in '1984', a dystopian vision of an all-knowing state, reports the N.Y. Times.
Snowden sets a dismal picture of the world today in his view that, ‘A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all,’ Mr. Snowden said in his Christmas Day message shown by Channel 4 today. ‘They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves — an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought.’
“Privacy matters; privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be,” he said.
Mr. Snowden still remains in temporary asylum in Russia where he was granted a one year stay last June. The chain of command and power in Russia chose not to extradite him back to the U.S.
Requesting his return, the Justice Department filed a criminal complaint against him in June, alleging that he had violated the United States’ Espionage Act and stolen government property.
In Dec. Federal District Court Judge, Richard J. Leon, ruled that the N.S.A. meta-data collection was probably unconstitutional. In his sixty-eight page opinion, Judge Leon wrote, ‘I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary invasion' than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval.’
Judge Leon immediately stayed the ruling so that the Department of Justice has time to review and determine an appeal.
Mr. Snowden has continued to drag Great Britain into the publicity by his continual reference to Great Britain’s George Orwell and the dark society he wrote about in his book, ‘1984’ in which ‘Big Brother’ was always present.
‘Great Britain’s George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of information,’ Mr. Snowden said. ‘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.’
Snowden, appearing somewhat gaunt, spoke out that change was in process, ‘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,’ Mr. 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.’
Mr. Snowden’s brief two minute message was filmed and produced by the documentary maker Laura Poitras, Channel 4 said. In a statement, the channel’s director of news and current affairs, Dorothy Byrne, said the information Mr. Snowden had revealed ‘raises serious questions for democratic society.’ She added that his message was ‘an opportunity for our viewers to hear from him directly and judge for themselves what he has to say.’
In a spirit of hope and optimism for the future, Queen Elizabeth reflecting on the birth of her great-grandson, Prince George, delivered in her usual manner of grace and dignity her annual Christmas message that the arrival of a new baby gave people the chance to think about the future with ‘renewed hope.’