I guess I’m on sort of a movie kick.
This movie is like no other I have ever seen. It is, simply, a chronology of how the revelations about the NSA unfolded: how Ed (Snowden) first contacted Poitras and Greenwald; how Ed met them in Hong Kong; more first-hand details about how Ed came to the decision and the steps he took to secure his person, his family and girlfriend, and to deliver the data to the journalists. It interests me from a citizen perspective, and from a technology perspective.
The revelations are much more palpable in the theatre. To hear Ed and Glenn prepare to reveal and post these stories is incredible. To see Ed in his hotel room, listening to the news about what he revealed is inconceivable. It really puts a human face on the issue, wrought with emotional frustration, principled anger and tantalizing fear that nothing will come of it.
The human rights lawyers, all gathered in a room in Berlin to discuss the issue is very interesting as well. The lawyer that whisks Ed away to safety in Hong Kong – I can only imagine the courage and care that went into his every move. The thought that the law of the land – The Espionage Act of 1917 – did not differentiate between a spy and a whistleblower is unthinkable. The help that the Assange of WikiLeaks provided was incredible – to see so many powerful people all around the world rally behind Ed was incredible to see.
Think about the magnitude of this act. To reveal the secret inner-workings of a tyrant. A tyrannical system that wants nothing but to beat any dissent those it oppresses can muster. Its unilateral and singular mission is to detect threats to itself and its parent (the country) and deconstruct the threat’s viability piece by piece. The NSA is not an organization that will go down easily.
The film leaves me wondering whether I value my own privacy. I have used Google’s Mail since it came out in beta when I was in the 7th grade. I use Twitter and Facebook, Amazon and YouTube. Companies know exactly what I’m talking about, with whom I’m talking, my network of colleagues, acquaintances, and friends, what I’m buying and when what I’m watching, when I’m watching it, and where I’m consuming all these services. I know I can be tracked. I know many companies are actively tracking me to “serve me better.” How would I feel if the government knew all this about me? I’m definitely less scared than I would be if I had ever had a run-in with a government official. Gladly, I have not. It is chilling to think that they would know what I know insofar as I had expressed it in any way.
Chilling. The film was chilling.