Documentary Films | 2016 | 90 minutes
Stranger Says: Black Code explores internet technology—mobile, social media, and cloud computing—through the lens of Citizen Lab, an internet research facility run by Professor Ronald Deibert (whose book inspired the film). The documentary takes you through a broad swath of stories—and locations—around the world “where big data meets big brother”: the cold-war bunker that hosts WikiLeaks, a Tibetan monk persecuted by the Chinese police state, a Brazilian guerrilla media outlet documenting protests with a homemade media rig in a shopping cart. Though there’s not one definitive takeaway with Black Code on the future of hotly contested cyberspace, you’ll probably learn enough disturbing shit to want to tape over your webcam. (AMBER CORTES)
SIFF Says:“We are going through the most profound change in communication technologies in all of human history right now,” says Ronald Deibert, political science professor and director of The Citizen Lab. “We’re leaving this digital exhaust that contains extraordinarily precise information about our lives, our social relationships, reduced to trillions of data points that form now this new ethereal layer around the planet that’s only growing.” He has a point. With mobile-phone usage, social media, and cloud computing, we put an awful lot of faith in companies to protect our private data. In truth, governments around the world are controlling, manipulating, and monitoring the Internet to their advantage. In this startling exposé, director Nicholas de Pencier shows us the connection between Big Data and Big Brother, meeting political activists, prisoners, protesters, and digital detectives from all over the world as they contend with this strange new world. Whether you’re protesting the Chinese occupation of Tibet, secretly recording the Syrian Civil War, or livestreaming a protest in an attempt to bypass government and media spin, somebody will always be watching. “It’s our responsibility to hold governments and companies accountable,” the film posits, so that they can’t infringe on our freedoms and rights.
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