THE BLOG
08/02/2013 03:14 pm ET | Updated Oct 02, 2013

Terms and Conditions May Apply Documentary: A Must See Horror Film

The Conjuring is a horror story based on real events. Terms And Conditions May Apply, a fascinating new documentary by filmmaker Cullen Hoback, tells a story far more terrifying that stretches far beyond one Rhode Island farm. For his revelatory film, Hoback may indeed become a true folk hero, without the confusing stigma of an Assange or Snowden.

Hoback's film takes us down a rabbit hole to try and answer the question: Is privacy dead? In the process, he exposes us to a massive civil liberties nightmare. As Hoback pointed out in a recent article, Silicon Valley "knows" that anonymity isn't profitable. This has driven Internet monoliths such as Google and Facebook to turn the Internet into a cog that turns us into a real-time surveillance state and George Orwell into an historian and prognosticator instead of an acclaimed fiction writer.

How did we as a culture consent to such behavior? According to the film, you need look no farther than those pesky terms and conditions you never read that come with every app you download and every website you visit. By clicking the "I Agree" button, you blindly assent to hand over your life and interests to billion-dollar corporations to do with it what they may. Oftentimes, this means selling your information to the highest bidder or sharing it with your government. Most of us never even realize it. Our government does, Republicans and Democrats alike, but does nothing about it. After all, this data is a treasure trove they can access by simply reaching into the data candy bowl collected by Facebook, Google, and company.

The spirited documentary weaves through popular television and movie clips, privacy experts and interviews with those who've shared too much on the Internet and, consequently, landed on the wrong side of the law. No one gets off scott-free, especially not Mark Zuckerberg whom Hoback confronts in a darkly comedic conversation at the film's climax. Hoback told AFP: "I just wanted him to say, 'Look, I don't want you to record me,' and I wanted to say, 'Look, I don't want you to record us.'"

Hoback doesn't think all Internet companies are evil by the way. He cites Twitter and Reddit as two companies he thinks that handle user privacy well. He also recently tweeted that if you are looking for a more private social network, you should try Sgrouples because "their privacy policy reads like a privacy policy should." I think that's because Sgrouples Privacy Bill of Rights clearly outlines user privacy rights in less than 200 words, as opposed to the thousands upon thousands of words of legal mumbo-jumbo that typical sites run. In fact, the film points out that for typical Internet users, it would take 180 hours -- the equivalent of one full month of work a year -- to fully read all the terms and conditions attached to their favorite websites. It is the entire misbegotten path the film illuminates that Sgrouples, with its revolutionary privacy policy and excellent revenue model is positioned to refute.

To take a glimpse into Hoback and his work I suggest reading a recent Q&A with TNW. I am personally attending a showing of the film in San Jose where Hoback is leading a Q + A on August 3rd. I'll also be attending a 4th Amendment rally in San Francisco on August 4th where Hoback and Daniel Ellsberg of The Pentagon Papers are speaking. I welcome you to come out to either and strongly urge you to see Terms And Conditions May Apply now playing at selected theaters near you.