While Americans gathered with their families to share anything and everything, Edward Snowden, the man who revealed the National Security Agency's mass data collection programs, had a message about the state of privacy in the world.
“The mission's already accomplished,” Snowden told the Washington Post. “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”
In a taped message, Snowden wished viewers a merry Christmas, and reminded them that “privacy matters” and that the world today is making privacy a thing of the past.
“Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be,” Snowden said, pointing out that children today will never have an “unrecorded, unanalyzed thought.”
Snowden also said that the level of surveillance going on today is far greater than anything in George Orwell’s 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. “We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go.”
Even those who disagree with Snowden can’t deny that he has opened a conversation about how governments acquire information. And Snowden’s message that the government should not spy on innocent citizens is getting far more traction than the opposition's.
Since Snowden's revelations in June, an amendment to end the NSA's data collection program nearly passed the House of Representatives -- with bipartisan support. There have also been multiple bills introduced to curb the spy programs, and President Obama commissioned a team to report on the programs and submit recommendations.
And earlier this month, a judge found the data collection programs to be “likely unconstitutional.”
For Snowden, it’s not about completely ending all intelligence-gathering, but he said the people need to “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.”