Documentary Movies

Discussing Privacy Through The “Discriminator” Interactive Documentary

It’s hard to talk about privacy when it comes to technology. As filmmaker, Brett Gaylor explains, “It’s an incredibly abstract issue. It’s a hard one to move hearts and minds around because oftentimes the sort of impact of privacy violations happens far into the future…something that you could not have anticipated.”

A few documentaries have tried to address internet privacy issues such as The Social Dilemma and Coded Bias. But now there is a new interactive, documentary short, Discriminator which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. While other documentaries explain using the emotions of fear, this doc takes a fun, quirky approach.

The set up begins with asking to have access to your web camera. I was a little worried but Gaylor explained that it is not being tracked, recorded or anything. It is to make us see just how much our photos, especially of our faces are used for corporations, tech companies and governments to use as they please.  

“We’re trying to unpack this this sort of knee jerk thing that people have or they’ll say well I don’t have anything to hide but of course you do.”

It’s true, we all have private things and deserve to keep it private. We lock our doors, we keep important paperwork in drawers, out of sight. 

We also discussed that this idea of “nothing to hide” can come from a place of privilege. 

“It’s people of color, people that are poor, it’s people that hold opposing views, those are the folks that would be impacted by that technology so it’s just thinking about it at an individual level kind of misses this point that it’s like these are sort of collective social responses that we have to have and then we have to craft laws.”

So where does this leave us with? Fear? Indifference? Taylor shares: 

“We need to support groups that have a  sort of a grassroots approach… like we can put a sticker over your webcam sure but what we really need to do is create laws that sort of hem in what these tech companies can do and that’s not an individual response, that’s a broad social response.”

The interactive documentary also allows you to give micropayments for the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project.

Other organizations that are working hard are: Algorithms Justice League and Fight for the Future.

Check out Discriminator and learn more!

(You can also check my thoughts on The Social Dilemma and Coded Bias.) 

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