Transcription of Snowden's statement to EPIC, where he was awarded the "Champion of Freedom" prize. Based on the video: https://epic.org/june02/ES_EPIC_Vid.mp4
Hello, and thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight, it is a tremendous honor to be recognized by EPIC. I know that the people who are here tonight... Mark Rotenberg, has been working for a very long time to raise awareness of the issue of mass surveillance, and it's no exaggeration to say the people in this room have led the way in defense of our right to privacy, and I know that others, Bruce Schneier, a man whom I've read and respected for many years have been among the first to recognize the danger that government's growing encroachments, particularly in secret into our private lives. Particularly when those programs have been shown to clearly damage the domain of our liberties, but have never been shown to effectively increase the level of security that we enjoy in our lives. This phenomenon Schneier described as “security theater,” which I think is an apt term.
The things that I saw, in my time in government convinced me the NSA had... had really lost its way, but critically, I believed then, and I still believe, that there are no mistakes of policy, there are no programs, that we cannot correct, once we understand the problems and debate the solutions, and commit ourselves to creating solutions we can live with.
Now, it's been about a year since I acted, and while that act, returning information that never should have been kept from the public, back to public hands, was in itself a very small thing, it's incredible to see how far we've come, and the things that have happened [have] been both surprising, and, to me, very encouraging. Today we're seeing a robust defense of our liberties, a defense of our rights, even the rights that often are disrespected in developed democracies like the right to privacy, and they're being advocated in ways that not too long ago would have been completely unimaginable.
The very first federal court, for example, to review the NSA's programs, which in itself was noteworthy, described the programs as Orwellian, and he ruled them to be unconstitutional. The Congress, and the President of the United States have both said that the dragnet indiscriminate intrusion into our private lives has to end. And laws are before Congress are moving to roll back our surveillance state for the first time since the PATRIOT Act.
Now, what in aggregate this represents to me, is that as a society we are moving to restore our Fourth Amendment. We're reminding the government that the prohibition against the unreasonable intrusion into our lives... that prohibition is not just the searching of our lives, of our information, of our details, but also the seizing of our private letters, of our private records, of our effects, in the first place, and that prohibition, against unreasonable search and seizure cannot be separated for a matter of convenience, and while, a decade ago, it would have been impossible to imagine we would win in that fight; today, thanks to the efforts of people like EPIC, I'm confident that we will succeed, and for that I have to thank everyone... everyone here for everything they've done. And along with my deep gratitude, I'd like to say that: you know, we have come so far, incredibly...[laugh] incredibly long and hard road we have traveled, but there’s still more to do, and I hope that I'll be able to help.
Thank you very much.