by Drew Martin
Ed Snowden's last name is relevant to me in this day and age considering that we used to call the static of television snow; when no distinguishable information was getting through.
I just watched Citizenfour, the documentary about Snowden's whistle-blowing on the National Security Agency, for whom he worked via Booz Allen, and where he was involved with extensive the metadata-driven information gathering on (basically) everyone. The film documents the arranged meeting in a hotel room in Hong Kong after five months of encrypted correspondence with filmmaker Laura Poitras and lawyer/journalist Glenn Greenwald. I have not been following this case so it was amazing to get the bulk of the story served up as it was originally captured before the information became top news.
It is fascinating to virtually be in the hotel room with the three of them discussing the strategy for how the story would be revealed by Greenwald through The Guardian. The core questions of freedom, freedom of speech, surveillance, and privacy come to a head in this film.
That being said, knowing that my electronic correspondence and conversation is being gathered for national security reasons is less offensive to me than the day-to-day information gathering that results in spamming emails, and advertising. My mother called me while I was watching this documentary to see if I was coming over her house tomorrow night for lasagna. I am totally fine with someone capturing that information if it also means a terrorist act can be avoided. I just don't want to see a targeted ad the next day for lasagna noodles and pasta sauce when I go on the Internet.