Sunday, June 23, 2013

Terms and Conditions May Apply

Thursday's closing night film at SF DocFest couldn't have been more timely. Terms and Conditions May Apply is a worrying documentary about the government's use of the data that online companies such as Google & Facebook collect on us. It uses interviews, news footage, & a close reading of various privacy policies to show that such data sharing is perfectly legal & that we've even agreed to it. A CIA official testifies that Facebook is "truly a dream for the CIA." Most unsettling are the stories of people detained by government & law enforcement agencies solely because of something posted online. The film is a call to activism & a response to those who say they are OK with government surveillance because they have nothing to hide. The documentary also includes humorous animations & film clips, & it ends with a bit of guerilla filmmaking in which director Cullen Hoback tracks down Mark Zuckerberg, who just wants to stop being followed.

Terms and Conditions photo IMG_20130621_090953_zpse102ccc3.jpgThe lively DocFest audience yelled "Don't do it!" during the opening sequence in which a computer mouse clicks on myriad "Accept" & "Submit" buttons. Mr. Cullen was present for a Q&A. We learned that Barrett Brown, one of the film's interviewees, has since been put in prison & is awaiting trial. An epilogue about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was added right before the screening. A clip earlier in the film shows George Bush describing what I assume is the NSA's warrantless wiretapping. It made me consider that Mr. Snowden's crime is not espionage but dissent. The Roxie audience was invited to an after-party at Picaro Tapas Restaurant across the street, where I had a glass of sangria, explained proxy servers, & traded travel stories about Turkey with fellow movie-goers.

§ Terms and Conditions May Apply (2013)
USA, 79 min, Cullen Hoback

12th Annual SF DocFest
Roxie Theater
Thu 6/20/2013 7p

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