Edward Snowden delivers a Christmas message

edward snowden

Edward Snowden has delivered a message about privacy via the United Kingdom’s Channel 4, and it may be a bit different from your typical holiday cheer.

He delivered message as part of Channel 4’s annual response to Queen Elizabeth’s royal Christmas message, and as you can expect he touched on many of the issues that have come to define his life over the past year.

“A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all,” Snowden said. “They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, un-analyzed thought.”

He also states that if the United States’ government wants to know what’s going on with its citizens and if it “really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.”

Its definitely been a tumultuous year when it comes to privacy and one hopes 2014 will bring some improvements in that regard.

[via AllThingsD, Huffington Post, image via zennie62’s flickr]

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  • Mike S.

    [@J.L.] Unfortunately, terrorism has forced compromises (which even are accepted under the U.S. Constitution and its interpretation)–and it’s up to people to tell their representatives if the compromises have gone too far, as is happening and needs to happen now. In the mind of some or even many, it’s not up to Mr. Snowden to do that for us, by stealing government confidential information and causing significant damage. Absent the laws being re-written to include a Snowden-like ends-justify-the-means exception, that’s still against the law.

    And your earlier words on terrorism: “Terrorist is just a label that can apply to anyone, and in NSA’s case everyone.”

  • J.L.

    [@Mike S.] It’s a reply to yours line by line. The association isn’t that difficult, every paragraph break ties my reply with your comment. As for what Snowden has done, there’s nothing one can do about it except judge the results.

    For the last time, when did I equate anything? The NSA is listening to millions or even billions of people, most of them innocent. Then it sometimes makes mistakes incriminating the wrong people, and there’s even ridiculous abuses like employees spying on lovers. That is not what should be the alternative to terrorism.

  • Mike S.

    Simply FYI, as just posted here at dotTech today:

    “US judge says NSA phone surveillance is legal, necessary to stop terrorism

    The America Civil Liberties Union has sought to block the National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass collection of telephone data. In June, the ACLU brought a lawsuit hoping to gain an injunction against the NSA to keep them from collecting data on US citizens via mass collection. However, a new ruling says that what the NSA is doing is actually completely legal.”


  • Mike S.

    [@J.L.] Sorry, J.L., I can’t follow most of what you write, as you don’t tie it back to my own comments. But I do agree with you, indeed as I had posted earlier and repeatedly, that legal does not make it good–which is why the NSA listening laws have been changed and need to be changed more (it seems to me). But Mr. Snowden’s means to get it done?

    What I don’t follow at all, now, is your trying to equate the NSA’s listening in on my plans for a Friday night date with the murder of thousands of people in the former World Trade Towers. My hunch is, the widows, widowers and orphans resulting from that terror would disagree with you.

  • J.L.

    [@Mike S.] That isn’t even related to the legality of revolutions we discussed in the previous post. You’re just extending something we’re already done with.

    Hence my reasoning that legal does not always mean a good thing.

    They had it coming sooner or later, unless the population becomes brainwashed.

    Then how do you think you know so much about Snowden, his actions, amongst other things?

    Since when did not much better became equal? Plus, can you compare the scale of their activities?

  • Mike S.

    [@J.L.] I realize that you don’t like what the NSA has been doing. (Of course, many other respected countries are doing the same thing, if perhaps not as successfully.) But that does not make it illegal. To the contrary, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, most of the federal courts have upheld the NSA’s activities repeatedly as not illegal. Ultimately, this may end up at the U.S. Supreme Court to determine. At the very least, this is not a cut-and-dried issue.

    Of course, even if legal, that does not mean that the policies and actions should be tolerated. I certainly don’t like what’s been going on and the direction this is going. Those laws, then, should be changed. As is happening now, at least to an extent–and more needs to happen, in my opinion.

    But no hypocrisy here, despite what you keep on claiming. I–like you–simply am expressing my personal views as is my right and, indeed, my obligation as a citizen. So is Mr. Snowden, with one (major) exception: he unquestionably stole confidential information from his employer In the process. And his subsequent release of certain of that information has done untold damage, even if you won’t recognize that because I can’t point to a terrorist who has publicly thanked him for his help. Pres. Obama himself has publicly stated the damage that has been done to security, and the NSA has reported the millions of dollars being expended trying to do damage control internally as a result of Mr. Snowden’s actions.

    Do I claim I “know everything,” as you state? Not in the least, and I never have said so. Like many others, I am conflicted by Mr. Snowden’s actions. But, again, as far as I am aware and unlike Mr. Snowden, I haven’t violated the law in the process and done untold harm to others, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars of damage (think of that on April 15, when you pay your taxes). And then fled the country so as not to be accountable for one’s actions (although I certainly can understand and even sympathize with why Mr. Snowden did so–not wanting to live the rest of his life in prison).

    As to your equating the NSA’s listening activities with the acts of terrorists (which you say the NSA is), which would include the 9-11 murder of thousands of innocent, non-combatant people, I just won’t go there.

  • Mike S.

    [@KMHamm] I agree–what Mr. Snowden did (among other things) was make this a front-page issue. Which I think that many even in the government think is a good thing. However, they may feel differently about the means used . . . .

  • J.L.

    [@Mike S.] You claim Mr. Snowden thinks he knows everything, but on the contrary only you are displaying that behaviour. I can’t make it any clearer than this. That kind of damage is to be expected when you start something like what the NSA has done. Terrorist is just a label that can apply to anyone, and in NSA’s case everyone. Tell me how it’s not helpful knowing you’re government is spying on its allies and its own citizens.

    Sure, if you think that change can be made without knowledge of the secrets in the first place. Your examples doesn’t even counter my arguments, what they were doing was illegal. Tell me how they’ve gone through the courts in any way different than what Snowden et al has begun. They spread their message, people protests, and eventually laws change. As if there weren’t any risks in what they’ve done.

    What ifs are far from certain. Yet you act is if they are. The only certain thing is the invasion of freedom and privacy of everyone targeted by the American government. Why bash Snowden when what the press revealed has the same risks? People still didn’t know enough back then, unless you can prove any effective changes that would occur without someone like Snowden.

    Effective, before things become worse as the government is free to do what it wants. As for fictional references of all things, I have nothing nice to say about that.

  • KMHamm

    If nothing else, Mr. Snowdon has made more people more aware. For that I applaud him. There is more “us vs. them” divisiveness in this country (pick your own “us” and “them”) than I’ve ever seen or thought possible. It’s crippling this country. And too much is done to too many ‘for their own good’. It is easier to rule and manipulate sheep and we are becoming (mostly) a nation of sheep. Nice in theory (for the masters) until innovation and creativity and determination are needed, and those in charge find that all they have to work with are sheep. (Oh, by the way, I have nothing against actual sheep-type sheep.) And as for the gvt knowing too much… Hey, if they know I have a flat tire out in the middle of nowhere without my calling anyone and come help me, how can I complain about that? Oh… wait… they don’t do that, do they? Some people think the terrorists have already won. They won’t as long as people like Mr. Snowdon keep poking us in the collective brain pan so that we at the very least pay attention to what’s happening to us.

  • Mike S.

    [@J.L.] Sorry, I don’t understand your claim of hypocrisy–as far as I am aware, there is none. And the costs are very clear–the diplomatic damage, as reported on the daily news with foreign countries and officials protesting, and the NSA reporting on what its had to do to try to understand and contain the damage. And it seems obvious, at least to me, that telling terrorists how they are being monitored probably is not a helpful thing, for anyone but a terrorist.

    How to expect change? Doing what is happening now: lawfully going to government officials and objecting, and demanding change–the marvelous system we have in the U.S., that still even works. And I don’t need to hack into your or anyone else’s computer and steal info. to do it. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi and Mandela seemed effective at revolutions without putting others at risk. And let’s keep in mind: the conduct that Mr. Snowden objects to is not necessarily illegal, even if you and I may not like it and may want it changed–at least as the majority of the courts have held.

    As I understand your point, the end justifies the means. And if Mr. Snowden has put agents’ lives at risk? And if an agent gets killed? Where do the justifiable means end, if anywhere? And isn’t that what terrorists are doing? That is what bothers me here–not the cause. And I’m not sure that the cause here even mandated the means–the press reported PRISM and the broad hijacking of electronic communications long before Mr. Snowden had done anything.

    What Mr. Snowden effectively did was add gasoline to the fire and raise the issue to a disaster level. Effective–but also destructive. It seems to me. And, of course, illegal, for which Mr. Snowden has fled. Not very John Wayne or Jimmy Stewart-like, in those hero movies from an earlier age.

  • J.L.

    [@Mike S.] And I can’t point out hypocrisy without you playing victim?

    Yes, because those costs are far from clear.

    How else do you expect change? That is how revolutions work. Then why should the government hack into terrorist’s computers to use it against them? What they’re doing isn’t much better.

    They operate under the same system. It’s as expected.

    If you’re truly for change, it is justified. Or you might as well be against protests for any cause just because they’re not legal.

  • Mike S.

    [@J.L.] As a first matter, would you please stop trying to demean me for giving my own views? My expression of my views, perhaps different from yours, does not somehow mean that I “think [I] know everything”–far from it. Interesting how you can defend Mr. Snowden for giving his views and acting on them, but I’m somehow not allowed to do so, free from attack (as, in fact, I’ve allowed you . . .).

    The cost? Does anyone really dispute the diplomatic costs, the costs for the NSA to revamp its personnel systems to try to prevent others from doing what Mr. Snowden did, the costs–estimated by the NSA in the millions of dollars–in trying to decipher and uncover exactly what Mr. Snowden has done and taken, the costs in those with nefarious intents more fully learning what the NSA is doing so as to try to evade security monitoring, etc.?

    Again, let’s please keep matters straight: I’m not defending the extent to which the security laws have been taken (pursuant to what Congress told the NSA to do); like many, I may feel that the pendulum has swung too far in favor of security over privacy, and unnecessarily so. But does that justify what I AM addressing: Mr. Snowden’s theft of confidential, legal records? And does that mean that you should be allowed to hack into my computer and get information about me, to use against me and my views?

    As to the Constitutionality: Interesting that you mention that, as well over 90% of the federal judges–a fairly good lot, as a general matter– who have considered the issues have UPHELD the constitutionality of the national security laws here. Does that mean that matters shouldn’t change? Of course not–the Supreme Court upheld separate-but-equal race discrimination laws for a century. But, at least according to the federal judiciary, this is not a cut-and-dried issue or an issue of a federal agency run amok. Far from it.

    Do the federal security laws need to be addressed vis-à-vis your and my privacy? Absolutely, and you (assuming that you are a U.S. citizen) and I have the right to have the issues addressed, and I want them to be. I am upset over this, even though I’m just another little guy in the wilderness of U.S. society and politics. But does that mean that Mr. Snowden’s means, the theft of lawful federal property, are justified?

  • J.L.

    [@Mike S.] Sure, a secret court overriding the Supreme Court is answerable. You’re giving them too much credit for something they were hiding, and blaming the messenger for escaping such injustice.

    You really do think you know everything.

    As if you can prove what could’ve happened. At least provide evidence of the “cost”.

    How about you give me the proven security benefits of what Mr. Snowden revealed? As for totally legal, laughable. One, legal is not necessarily a good thing. Two, ever read The Constitution?

  • Mike S.

    [@Ed] Please see my response above. Believe it or not, like you, I want my privacy and believe that the government likely has taken matters too far, in its own understandable concern over terrorism stemming from the 9-11 attacks. The pendulum swung too far, as often happens with emotional responses.

    I’m not sure why you write that I don’t understand the issues–do you know me? Or are you simply attacking me for perhaps having a different view than yours? And as to taking a stand, that dialogue is going on right here and with my government representatives, as well as otherwise.

    I agree with you as to Mr. Snowden’s fleeing–had he stayed here he would be in prison now, pending trial, and potentially would never leave.

    But let’s keep things straight–no matter what his intentions (and I believe that Mr. Snowden felt that he was doing the right thing, and taking a stand against government intrusion into the lives of private citizens), the fact remains that Mr. Snowden illegally stole sensitive government information concerning a government agency’s enforcement of security laws. You and I might want those laws changed. But does that (legally) justify Mr. Snowden’s theft and the immense financial, political, and security harm that it has caused? This is what Mr. Snowden has foisted on you and me–the negative consequences.

    By the way: you asked if I would defend Mr. Snowden in a legal case. The answer is yes, and I know others who would do so. But whether I believe he is innocent of the theft of government info. is a different thing, from what I have read of what he did.

  • Mike S.

    [@J.L.] “Answerable” in the NSA and government (the government having enacted the legislation that the NSA ardently has been effectuating) having to account for what they have been doing, as is happening now and with laws being changed; Mr. Snowden, in contrast, has fled.

    As to your 2nd point, I’m not pushing myself on others and forcing them to pay for my actions; Mr. Snowden is, regardless of his perhaps best of intentions.

    Just saying, there are many ways to do things. The press had broken the PRISM wholescale eavesdropping on electronic communications many months before. Mr. Snowden, in his zeal and perhaps principled side-blindedness, has taken a road that has cost a great deal of destruction and financial cost.

    And by the way: I agree with the result, of causing a debate on the privacy issue. But I don’t agree with the cost along the way, that taxpayers are having to cover, as well as security risks that may have resulted from Mr. Snowden’s theft of totally legal confidential government info.

  • Ed

    [@Mike S.]

    Mr. Snowden did not “foist” it all on us, he is simply confirming out loud what every blue blooded American thinks but is just to afraid to speak out loud. As far as him running away, I really do not think he had a choice, had he stayed our government would have crucified him and who would be the one to take a stand for him in his defense……. you? I think not.
    It’s real easy to hide behind a keyboard and condemn people for actions you neither understand or care about, why don’t you get some guts and take a stand and force your government to give you answers. You will not like what you see, THEN and only then will you understand WHY Mr. Sowden fled.
    I applaud the man and look forward to the day when our country and it’s citizens are TRULY free once again.

  • J.L.

    [@Mike S.] Answerable in what way? Your own point on Mr. Snowden applies to yourself more certainly than anyone else by the way.

  • Mike S.

    It’s always nice when a 20-something year old thinks he knows everything, and foists it all on the rest of us. In that sense, Mr. Snowden is not much different from the government he attacks. Except that, the government is answerable for its actions, and Mr. Snowden has run away.