One of the most startling motifs of Citizenfour, Laura Poitras's Academy Award-winning documentary about Edward Snowden, is the use and abuse of cryptographic tools, which are at the center of the NSA's surveillance plans and Snowden's audacious act of whistleblowing.
Citizenfour's production was (naturally) shrouded in secrecy, and Poitras has gone on to publish many excellent articles about the Snowden documents as well as documents from a second leaker, a project necessitating still more security. In this Wired article, Poitras describes her own security protocols, and talks about the role of crypto in modern society.
Poitras, the recipient of Macarthur "genius" grant in 2012, argues we've entered a new era of whistleblowing, one in which insiders will increasingly come forward to leak evidence of corruption and injustice. But she cautions that technology is only a part of the shift. "It's not just about the tools. It's about people willing to risk their lives to expose information," she says.
Poitras points to a new generation of government insiders who she says feel betrayed by the permanent institutionalization under Obama of policies that they saw as emergency measures under Bush. "The growth of the surveillance state, the increased drone wars, Guantanamo, these are activities that the U.S. government is engaging in that people think the public has a right to know about, and that they'll take risks to reveal," she says. "There are many, many whistleblowers and sources out there."
Laura Poitras on the Crypto Tools That Made Her Snowden Film Possible [Andy Greenberg/Wired]