Snowden: 2016

The 2016 US elections has made us realize that even the whistleblowers have some role to play in mobilizing the public opinion. The last email-trail release by Wikileaks about Mrs. Clinton’s involvement in various unjust events and funding just blew everything up for the Democrats. Now, it is up to Donald Trump to go ahead and convey his regards to the Wikileaks owner. Mr. Snowden on the other hand would not be able to enjoy this luxury of mobilizing public opinion whenever he should. The reason is that he himself decided to give up all of his information to the media instead of dumping everything on the web from time-to-time. The story of Mr. Edward Snowden is a little different than that of Mr. Assange.

Snowden was born and raised in a family of those serving to the US federal government. He followed the same legacy and became part of the United States Army Reserve in capacity of a trainee. He couldn’t complete his training due to an accident. But he chose to continue his service by working as a Network Security Specialist. His views towards the mass surveillance program changed when he started working for National Security Agency (NSA) as a Contractor in 2013.

Oliver Stone’s Snowden and Laura Poitras’ Citizenfour are almost similar. You could say that the movie Snowden is made on top of that documentary. It just adds the visuals to the interview. The movie starts with the same interview in an hotel in Hong Kong. Edward Snowden through that interview gave up all the information to The Guardian, an English daily, and hoped that it would do the world a favor. The US government on the other hand was of the different opinion. Mr. Snowden’s biggest disappointment was that from Obama’s administration. He anticipated that at least Obama’s administration would curtail the wrong doings of NSA but instead the administration multiplied the usage of mass surveillance.

The movie, Snowden, reveals that a program called XKEYSCORE was in use for data-mining by NSA. This program, XKEYSCORE, works and relies on the dictionary of rules containing appIDs, fingerprints, and microplugins. These rules are written in a scripting language called GENESIS. When the pattern-matching goes for a toss, a microplugin is used which is actually a combination of appIDs and fingerprints written in C++. NSA used this program to intercept large amounts of network traffic and it can get you anywhere you wanted. Take a pause and imagine for a minute about those various appIDs running in your system when you are connected to the web. Fingerprints that are attached with the emails are easily traceable. That’s why if you agree with Mr. Snowden, you should consider using an Operating system especially designed for anonymity, TAILS.

A program called PRISM was in use to get as much network traffic as it could get. Big giants such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, Youtube, and Apple were (or, are still) involved in getting user data for mass surveillance. This program dates back to 2007 when it all started. You could imagine the amount of data that they already have on you. Now that you know about this stuff, don’t you think it’s high time to flush your iOS/Mac, Windows, and Google accounts and start getting used to TAILS/TOR and DuckDuckGo.

The acting in the movie is appealing. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as Edward Snowden) and Shailene Woodley (as Lindsey Mills) are excellent in their performances. Rhys Ifans and Nicolas Cage are also good in their short cameos. The background score by Craig Armstrong supports the theme of the movie. The cinematography is excellent as you could easily relate to the actual events seeing the background. This could be the best docu-drama after the movie The Imitation Game.