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End mass surveillance, Snowden urges in Xmas message

Whistleblower Edward Snowden claims today's surveillance is worse than in George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984.

Ex-National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden took the reins of Channel 4's alternative Christmas message yesterday, and he used the broadcast to urge an end to mass surveillance.

Snowden blew the whistle on his ex-employer, the NSA, for spying on US citizens, monitoring their emails, phone calls, and text messages. Here in Blighty, GCHQ was also found to be involved.

Snowden, 30, recorded his message in Russia, where he was granted temporary asylum. He said in his message: "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, unanalysed thought."

He also invoked George Orwell's vision of a dystopian future, 1984, saying that Orwell's microphones hidden in trees and TV screens that watch you are "nothing compare to what we have today."

He said he hoped the revelations resulting from his leaks would help regulate governments in future. "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."

In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Snowden said: "I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself. All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed."

US president Barack Obama has said he'll make a definitive statement in January about recommendations following the leaks.

What did you think of Snowden's message? Is he right? Are we living in a world worse than Orwell envisaged in 1984? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.