The 6 Privacy Violating Tools Essential to Watching Snowden Documentary CITIZENFOUR

Citizenfour is available on digital download on "all digital media". I was very excited to watch it, but then I realised there was a minor issue and that I am going to be that guy again. (my previous post on this is mediocre)

The documentary is about the Snowden leaks, from which we learn how the general public's privacy is constantly being invaded by the U.S.A. government (and friends) with the help of certain companies. The privacy invasion is eased by the scarcity of end-to-end encryption and participation, voluntary or not, of major Internet services (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Time Warner, etc).

To play a digital copy of Citizenfour you need one of the platforms listed further down. They all use DRM, either via Flash or Silverlight, in other cases via a hardware solution, perhaps based on EME (Encrypted Media Extensions, for more info Why the W3C Should Reject EME or /tag/EME or wikipedia/EME).

DRM, Digital Rights Management (aka Digital Restrictions Management) is a system to attempt to restrict the users control over their computing. In this case, it means giving the publishing platform control to your computer in order to watch Citizenfour.

For example, they can control which device can be used to play the video, how many times you may play it, require that you be connected to the Internet to view the content and even delete the video from your system.

These are the 6 privacy violating tools essential to watching the Snowden documentary, Citizenfour:


Amazon Instant Video is locked down to specific devices with built-in DRM. It may also be possible to play on a Windows or Mac system with Silverlight (DRM).

Amazon has already remotely deleted Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm by George Orwell from their client's devices.

Amazon also deleted everything from a user's Kindle without explanation. I don't even understand how this story hasn't prompted more people to question DRM more seriously.

Google Play

Google Play video requires at least Flash, it's also available, just as with Amazon, on certain devices. Often Google tries to ensure compatibility with Free systems using open standards, in this case they haven't. Instead they are working on making Encrypted Media Extensions an "open standard" for the the W3C. This system (as explained in previous links) requires a blackbox binary on the user's system which reduces the user's control of their device.


What is there to say about iTunes ? Anything Apple is, how to say, tempting, however, it's best not to bite.

Apple devices are known to not be very far from the user's control. If you want to give up your privacy and control of your device, buy an Apple (or any other device supported by any of the other platforms listed here I guess).

For more info on how Apple is malware. ...

Playstation Network

Sony is known to be very aggressive when it comes to trying to protect their "intellectual property". In 2011 Sony launched raids on the homes of kids that have hacked on their legally purchased consoles, such as Graf_Chokolo who worked on making it possible again to install Linux on the PS3.

Sony logo - NK edition

Some say Sony is run by Kim Jung-un

Sony is also known for having illegally installed Rootkits on to users computers without consent. This was their attempt at copy protection of audio CDs. Of course, Sony was not raided and nobody involved went to prison or even risked any sentence.

Sony BMG initially denied that the rootkits were harmful. It then released, for one of the programs, an "uninstaller" that only un-hid the program, installed additional software which could not be easily removed, collected an email address from the user, and introduced further security vulnerabilities.

With regards to that, I don't want to own anything Sony, ever. I wouldn't want to risk being raided for publishing any tips on getting a sound card to work on a Vaio...


This system is aimed at TVs and BlueRay players. Vudu requires a system they can control, for this they rely on hardware DRM. Just like all the others, except they haven't raided anyone yet.


Microsoft is another one of the big 3 proponents of the EME specification at the W3C. Along with Google and Netflix they've been working towards a pseudo open standard for user control with the blessing of the W3C.

The One Tool that Works

Perhaps you may share my deception by the fact that this film about global espionnage on the general public is only available to platforms that can and often do perform surveillance on the general public. This is just as Kafkaesque as Amazon remotely deleting Orwell's books.

So far, the best way to watch this film at home without compromising your privacy is to not watch it. Every legal method to obtain this film, and most films in general, is a compromise to your privacy, but also to the control of your own system. All this DRM stems from Hollywood (MPAA), Citizenfour is playing ball.

Mickey Pees on Altruists Association

I again have to point out Louis CK who sells his content directly from his website to the viewers. It's so simple, non-intruisive, truly cross platform that I can't believe it's not butter today's standard..

Anyway, spoiler alert, I'll resume the film (that I've not seen) for you: Something something NSA something spying something something global surveillance is bad.
(sent from my iPhone)


The title of this post is of course a reference to The 7 Privacy Tools Essential to Making Snowden Documentary CITIZENFOUR.


I found a page which provides a torrent link for Citizenfour without DRM, I've not tested it but it comes from a reputable source: You are encouraged to support the work via other methods and/or donate to Snowden's legal fund.