CNET‘s Declan McCullagh talks about an upcoming documentary release:
From Aaron Swartz’s struggles with an antihacking law to Hollywood’s lobbying to a raft of surveillance proposals, the Internet and its users’ rights are under attack as never before, according to the creators of a forthcoming documentary film.
The film, titled War for the Web, traces the physical infrastructure of the Internet, from fat underwater cables to living room routers, as a way to explain the story of what’s behind the high-volume politicking over proposals like CISPA, Net neutrality, and the Stop Online Piracy Act.
“People talk about security, people talk about privacy, they talk about regional duopolies like they’re independent issues,” Cameron Brueckner, the film’s director, told CNET yesterday. “What is particularly striking is that these issues aren’t really independent issues…. They’re all interconnected.”
The filmmakers have finished 17 lengthy interviews — including what they say is the last extensive one that Swartz, the Internet activist, gave before committing suicide in January — that have yielded about 24 hours of raw footage. They plan to have a rough cut finished by the end of the year, and have launched a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo that ends May 1. (Here’s a three-minute trailer.)
Swartz, who was charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, faced a criminal trial that would have begun this month and the possibility of anywhere from years to over a decade in federal prison for alleged illegal downloads of academic journal articles. He told the filmmakers last year, in an interview that took place after his indictment, that the U.S. government posed a more serious cybersecurity threat than hackers:
They cracked into other countries’ computers. They cracked into military installations. They have basically initiated cyberwar in a way that nobody is talking about because, you know, it’s not some kid in the basement somewhere — It’s President Obama. Because it’s distorted this way, because people talk about these fictional kids in the basement instead of government officials that have really been the problem, it ends up meaning that cybersecurity has been an excuse to do anything…
Now, cybersecurity is important. I think the government should be finding these vulnerabilities and helping to fix them. But they’re doing the opposite of that. They’re finding the vulnerabilities and keeping them secret so they can abuse them. So if we do care about cybersecurity, what we need to do is focus the debate not on these kids in a basement who aren’t doing any damage — but on the powerful people, the people paying lots of money to find these security holes who then are doing damage and refusing to fix them.