As a result of those revelations, governments and citizens around the world have been prompted to reflect on whether such data gathering is appropriate or desirable.
The results of that reflection are mixed. In the U.S., some judicial authorities and government advisors are starting to lean towards dismantling or limiting the surveillance machine, while in other countries, such as France and the U.K., governments are legislating for even more surveillance and recording of citizens' communication preferences.
Here is a full transcript of Snowden's Alternative Christmas Message:
Hi, and merry Christmas.
I'm honored to have a chance to speak with you and your family this year.
Recently we learned that our governments, working in concert, have created a system of worldwide mass surveillance, watching everything we do. Great Britain's George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of information. 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, unanalyzed 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.
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.
For everyone out there listening, thank you and merry Christmas.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.