Directed by Laura Poitras.
With Glenn Greenwald, William Binney, Jacob Appelbaum, Ewen MacAskill, and others.
The Watchers, the Watched, and a Future of Walls with Ears
The first thing I learned from watching Laura Poitras’ long-anticipated new film, Citizenfour, is that the term ‘amnesia‘ refers to the Tor onion network, which provides a user with a non-persistent operating system environment in which dissidents and privacy defenders, and the like, can browse the ‘Net and send emails without risk of data later being recovered from one’s computer, because, once shut down, Tor forgets everything. (Or so we were told, until even the protections of Tor were shown to be highly vulnerable at the end nodes, and that spooks were actively engaged in cracking it.)
However, the appearance of Tor and amnesia early in Citizenfour gave me an a-ha moment because I’d just had published my review of Peter Carey’s new book, Amnesia, but neglected to include this Tor reference in my piece, although it now seemed like such an obvious thing to have done. Of course, though Carey’s main character, an Assange-like female hactivist, uses Tor, the title principally refers to how quickly Australians forgot the deposing of sitting Prime Minister Gough Whitlam back in 1973 at – some say – the insistence of the Nixon/Kissinger government. Anyway, I sighed and whistled and moved on.