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NSA leaker Snowden urges US to 'end mass surveillance'

Edward Snowden, who revealed extensive details of global electronic surveillance by American and British spy agencies, warns of the dangers posed by mass surveillance in an "alternative" Christmas message broadcast in the UK.

LONDON — NSA leaker Edward Snowden urged the United States and other world powers to "end mass surveillance" Wednesday in his first televised interview since arriving in Russia to avoid prosecution by authorities.

The whistle-blower compared modern surveillance techniques to George Orwell’s novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four" and said that "a child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all."

The pre-recorded interview was broadcast on Britain's Channel 4 for its annual "Alternative Christmas Message" to coincide with the queen’s formal Christmas Day public address.

It was filmed by Laura Poitras, who along with journalist Glenn Greenwald first published documents leaked by Snowden in May 2013.

"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," Snowden said in clips pre-released by Channel 4.

"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."

Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker who set off a worldwide debate about government surveillance, is speaking out in a rare interview with the Washington Post. NBC's Pete Williams reports.

The interview comes days after Snowden told the Washington Post that his mission was "already accomplished. I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don't realize it," he added.

In Channel 4's interview, Snowden compares the clandestine surveillance techniques revealed in National Security Agency (NSA) documents he leaked six months ago to Orwell’s signature book.

The novel, first published in 1949, portrays a dystopian future in which an authoritarian regime keeps track of the population through the omniscient Big Brother character.

"Great Britain’s George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of information," Snowden said. "The types of collection in the book -- microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us -- are nothing compared to what we have available today.

"We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go. Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person.

"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. And that’s a problem because privacy matters, privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be."

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