Terms and Conditions May Apply is less clear about the consequences of those incursions for average citizens. Hoback interviews a few people who had planned creative hackings of Britain’s royal wedding—a group who planned to dress up like zombies and a street theater troupe—and who were arrested before they actually managed to do anything. It’s not totally clear, though, how the government used data surveillance to identify and stop them. Hoback also waves his hands around the phone tapping that journalists at Rupert Murdoch’s papers engaged in, implying, somewhat confusingly, that it’s no accident that Murdoch, with his connections to the highest level of politics, was involved in this sort of activity.

So far, the people who have paid the highest price are those, like Edward Snowden, who have revealed the details of online government surveillance—even when, as Hoback shows, the scope of these programs wasn’t surprising. On Saturday, another panelist, Microsoft senior researcher danah boyd, said the content of Snowden’s revelations were less interesting than the way that he released this information and that the government responded. “We’re starting to see new road maps for civil disobedience,” she said. Each time a person like Snowden or Bradley Manning steps forward, she said, they are testing out new variations of civil disobedience against the surveillance state, figuring out how best to resist incursions into privacy.

Most of us, though, aren’t resisting; we’re living with the vague feeling that it’s not quite right that you’re handing over so much information on a daily basis. After all, as Zeynep Tufecki, who studies technology and society, says in the film: “You have nothing to hide until you do.”

Disclosure: CJR has received funding from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to cover intellectual-property issues, but the organization has no influence on the content.


Sarah Laskow is a writer and editor in New York City. Her work has appeared in print and online in Grist, Good, The American Prospect, Salon, The New Republic, and other publications.