Human Rights

WATCH: Snowden's Holiday Message—'A Child Born Today Will Grow Up With No Conception of Privacy'

Whistleblower wishes all a happy new '1984'.

American whistleblower, hacker, hero to some, traitor to others, Edward Snowden showed his christmas spirit when he took part in the UK channel 4’s annual "Alternative Christmas Message,” which, since 1993, has included such headline-grabbing notables as former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Sharon Osbourne. Snowden's speech was shortened and uploaded online shortly before the broadcast, making for a nice bit of poetic irony in its seemingly unintended leaking, but was immediately blocked by many different stations.  

In the video, Snowden lambasts the United States’ surveillance tactics, citing the alarming similarity to writer George Orwell’s description of a dystopian future in “1984,” which showed a world under constant surveillance by the state. “A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all,” Snowden explains, speaking directly to the camera from an unidentifiable location (aside from the known fact that it’s probably Russia, making for a white christmas indeed). “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.”

Snowden, who has been granted one-year asylum by Russia after leaking documents that exposed the sheer magnitude of the United States’ surveillance methods, ended the year with an open letter to the people of Brazil, offering to help them look into the full breadth of the NSA’s spying, and was also a close runner-up for Time’s Person of the Year, losing to Pope Francis. Watch Snowden’s speech in its entirety below.

Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.

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