Donald J. Patterson

Reel{Talk} screening of Citizenfour

Citizenfour Reel{Talk} poster

Citizenfour screening

I can’t wait until Thursday March 3rd, because Westmont is hosting a screening of Citizenfour and a post-screening discussion of the themes the movie brings up.  Several Westmont faculty were asked to be present at the discussion to help provide insight and perspective on what is a very complicated issue.   The movie is a documentary about Edward Snowden who is known for being the person who blew the whistle on the NSA’s mass surveillance of digital communications.   Given the recent attempts by the FBI to coerce Apple into breaking the encryption built into iPhones, the movie is unbelievably timely and relevant.


Wikipedia touts the films cred as follows:

Citizenfour is a 2014 documentary film directed by Laura Poitras, concerning Edward Snowden and the NSA spying scandal. The film had its U.S. premiere on October 10, 2014 at the New York Film Festival and its UK premiere on October 17, 2014 at the BFI London Film Festival. The film featuresGlenn Greenwald and was co-produced by Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, and Dirk Wilutzky, with Steven Soderbergh and others serving as executive producers. Citizenfour won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2015 Oscars.

Movie Trailer

Some of my talking points

Here are a few of the points that I want to make:

  • It’s all good until you are the target
  • Are you the target?  How can you be sure?
  • Once the data is collected, for whatever the initial purpose, it can be repurposed.  It will be repurposed.
  • It is not worth sacrificing freedom for security.   To what degree does monitoring our communication result in a diminishment of our freedom?
  • Snowden made it clear to computer scientists that if there is a flaw in any system, it will be exploited by the good guys.  We can only assume the bad guys will also.
  • Basically I’m sympathetic to Snowden.  I think he is more hero than traitor.

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