What’s really going on in the intelligence agencies working for Governments around the world? What are the data gathering programs doing to our privacy? The titles announces CitizenFour as the third part of a trilogy from Laura Poitras about America post 9/11. Structured like a thriller, the film opens in Brazil as the journalist Glenn Greenwald reports for salon.com and The Guardian on how the Obama administration has ignored the civil rights of its citizens as it esculates and advances its surveillance operations. “Every purchase you make, every call you make, every site you visit is in the hands of a system whose reach is unlimited but whose safeguards are not.”
Metadata analysis is the concept that troubled George Brandis our attorney general. Simply put programs have now been developed that capture everything about you and I. They are then used to formulate profiles with the intent of capturing an understanding of who we are, potential terrorists or child molestors lookout. However they will also know how many times you visited sites in the last two years. Tony Abbott is in the process of introducing legislation into Parliament that will force Telecommunication companies to store customer metadata for two years.
Observing the congressional hearing in Washington provides little comfort into the ethical treatment of our personal data by Governments. When asked, “Does the NSA intercept Americans cellphone conversations?” the NSA director answered “No”. “Google searches, text messages, amazon.com orders, bank records he consectivelly answered no. What Lauara Poitras film proves is that he was lying. The track record of the Abbott Government combined with Brandis's incompetent response when asked to detail the implications of metadata provide little comfort.
In the first 15 minutes of CitizenFour we are gripped, Poitras’s film channels the great conspiracy thrillers of the seventies, from All the Presidents Men, The Parralax View and The Conversation. Only this time its real. The emergence of the main protagonist IT geek Edward Snowden white t-shirt, handsome and appropriately paranoid. He is fervently intelligent. “Anything I can do to get this out I will do.” His motives are clear he is oppossed to “State power against the peoples ability to meaningfully oppose that power.” Over 8 days the story unfolds from the interior of a Hong Kong hotel room as the mass media begin to take hold of the story.
This film deserves to be seen, as Greenwald says this is chilling we should be having debates as to why this is happening. Our privacy is being violated to protect security, without proper debate. Next time you type a search into Google be aware a program, or an analyst may be monitoring your every click.