Snowden breaks silence for Christmas
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden warns viewers in the UK about the threat to privacy by mass government surveillance.PT1M24S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2zx6q 620 349 December 26, 2013
Washington: Former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, in a Christmas message on a London television station, called government surveillance worse than anything envisioned by George Orwell in his novel 1984.
"The types of collection in the book -- microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us -- are nothing compared to what we have available today," Snowden said on London's Channel 4, an independent, privately owned station. "We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go. "
Orwell, a British writer, chronicled a future in which the US and UK were absorbed into a superstate that constantly spied on its citizens. The book was first published in 1949.
US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden preparing to make his television Christmas message on UK's Channel 4. Photo: AFP
"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 is now in Russia under temporary asylum. News organisations, including the Washington Post and UK's Guardian newspaper, in June began publishing information about US spy programs based on the ex-contractor's disclosures.
The US and its lawmakers are debating whether to restrain the programs following Mr Snowden's leaks, with President Barack Obama saying December 20 that he'll act on the recommendations of a review panel next month.
Channel 4 annually airs an "Alternative Christmas, with Message" to the broadcast by Queen Elizabeth II. Other speakers have included then-Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.