Citizenfour briefly touches upon how technologies have affected work productivity for certain groups. The film mentions the NSA program STELLARWIND as having increased the capabilities of the NSA by automating analysis of the metadata that the organization collects, according to William Binney. And Edward Snowden’s correspondence between Laura Poitras would not be possible without GNU Privacy Guard. Snowden’s example may have prompted news organizations to seek out submissions of sensitive information by providing more accessible and secure methods to transmit that info than through encrypted email; a concrete realization of this claim is the adoption of the SecureDrop system, “an open-source whistleblower submission system that media organizations can use to securely accept documents from and communicate with anonymous sources” [1].

However, Citizenfour does not mention how technologies may have affected wealth, opting to stay focused towards its message that mass surveillance harms society by intruding upon privacy. However, articles published after the NSA document leak argue that the leak has negatively affected wealth by costing US tech companies revenue and market share. A 2014 paper published by the New America foundation found that US cloud computing companies may have lost between $22 billion and $180 billion in revenue between 2013 and 2016 [2]. The paper cites the consumer’s declining trust in these companies, having learned that the NSA has unfettered access to some of those companies’ data, as a significant factor toward the revenue decline.


  1. No Author, “SecureDrop | The open-source whistleblower submission system managed by Freedom of the Press Foundation.” (2017) (Accessed 04/25/2017)
  2. Danielle Kehl, “Surveillance Costs: The NSA’s Impact on the Economy, Internet Freedom & Cybersecurity” (New America’s Open Technology Institute, 2014) (Accessed 04/25/2017)