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We are filmmaker Cullen Hoback (cullenhoback)

Ben Wizner (benwizner) Director of ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project and legal advisor to Edward Snowden

Tim Karr (TimKarr), Director of Strategy for Free Press

David Segal (davidadamsegal), Demand Progress exec director.

Thanks so much to those of you who just finished the online screening of Terms and Conditions May Apply (over at and welcome to everybody else! If you want to watch the film, please visit:

And from the bottom of our hearts over at Demand Progress: Thanks so much to everybody who participated in the online screening. There were 2,752 of you! This was our first time using that platform, which we've been building over the last few weeks, and we look forward to doing more screenings and chats with all of you down the line and working with all of you to perfect the system.

Comments: 553 • Responses: 48  • Date: 

occult_fan160 karma

What will be the most effective route forward for those individual citizens who wish to spread a 'Can You Please Not?' campaign? I see so many citizens who care for this. They show you only need to get ~3.5% of the population to take action on an issue to successfully enact its implementation. So where do you think we are now on this, and what is the best way forward for the 'average citizen'?

cullenhoback121 karma

'Can you please not' campaign? I love it. Let's make it happen.

cullenhoback39 karma

Privacy matters just as much to Mark Zuckerberg or Eric Schmidt as it does to the rest of us. I can only imagine that Zuckerberg's recent purchase of the 6 homes around his own was a move to prevent filmmakers like me from 'invading' his privacy in the future.

occult_fan35 karma

Sure. I've got ideas. If you're serious, I'm looking for a project such as this to dig in to.

cullenhoback54 karma

Given how this resonated on Twitter, I'm thinking we move into a campaign around 'can you please not'. We're snagging the url. Feel free to shoot me a message and we can discuss.

idonotagree-whatnow17 karma

There should be a cooperation with StopWatching.Us - or are you already doing this? Found out about the movie this way!

cullenhoback32 karma

At the very least, 'can you please not' tell us you're going to do one thing and then do another? 'Delete' shouldn't be open for interpretation.

cullenhoback26 karma

Everyone, feel free to contribute your ideas. We are working on shaping the next key action in the coming days. #canyoupleasenot

anewwe16 karma

Part of the campaign should focus on voting, and that it is important to continue to vote, but just not for the two party system. Showing that we demand an alternative by actually going out and voting with our "gut feeling" knowing that neither Democrats or Republican are the answer to our problem.

TimKarr18 karma

Protecting our online privacy and fighting for our rights to connect and communicate are issues that seems to defy Washington's pattern of partisanship. It's a bipartisan coalition that in 2012 led the defeat of two copyright bills that threatened the open Internet. And it's a bipartisan coalition (StopWatching.US) that is behind the fight against online surveillance and privacy violations in 2013.

Joining the right with the left and center is essential to building a populist effort that can counter the out-of-touch, lobbyist-driven elite that dictate policy in Washington. This DC corporate spin on issues doesn't hold up against diverse grassroots efforts. Campaigns to protect the open Internet and user privacy are attracting strange political bedfellows, and this is our strength. It also has the potential to redefine politics as usual in Washington and shift power away from the political industrial complex toward well organized Internet users.

beerdom138 karma

The last scene with Zuckerberg speaks to some of the psychological effects of being surveiled. Notice how he was tense and apprehensive when he thought that he was being recorded, but loosened up after? I think the same thing happens on the internet, when people are cognizant that the authorities or other malicious people could gain access to their personal information and communications. Free speech isn't free if people are too afraid to express it. It's a real problem, and I hope that progress will be made on the "Can you please not?" front.

cullenhoback53 karma

Who would have thought that Mark Zuckerberg could potentially have the voice of a movement for digital privacy?

Cromesett7 karma

All that evil needs to prevail is for great men to stand aside and let it?

Not saying he is this monolith of greatness, but he certainly has the smarts, resources and potential to effect some real change with what he has and possibly will continue to build. I think your comment is fair, but this isn't your classic fat-cat, no?

cullenhoback77 karma

I'm being a little ironic here. Mark Zuckerberg claims that privacy is dead. In the film, when I approach him with cameras on his way to work and ask him for his real thoughts are on privacy, he responds, "Are you recording?" He then says, "Can you please not?" The point is, we all care about privacy. But it's easy to say that privacy is dead when that philosophy aligns with your company's business model.

kdarm59 karma

With so many of us dependent/addicted to online services, do you feel that demanding changes from the corporations would be more effective than seeking legislative changes or is legislation the best way to restructure what corporations are allowed to collect? It's hard to know where one ends and the other begins with such an entanglement between telco corps, search engine behemoths like Google and social networking sites.

cullenhoback77 karma

Ben is spot on. There is an unholy alliance between the tech giants, the telcos, and the gov. It's been interesting since MUSCULAR to see the tech giants going after the NSA. They're realizing that trust is eroding, especially globally, and it's going to hurt their pocketbooks. Putting pressure on the corps right now may lead to some meaningful legislative change. However, I believe the answer may ultimately lie in innovative solutions, such as decentralization of data.

DrewMThrowaway94 karma

"Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day." by: Theodore Roosevelt(1858-1919) 26th US President Date: April 19, 1906

This fight has been going on much longer than any of us have even been alive, and by all accounts, we are losing.

benwizner100 karma

Yes -- and we won't ever "win." But imagine what the world would look like if we didn't fight?

cullenhoback21 karma

I want to also be clear that protest and social movements are how we make a lot of this stuff happen.

DrewMThrowaway25 karma

I don't mean to be contentious or needlessly negative, but I completely disagree with this. Social movements are great for bringing attention to an issue, or for expressing displeasure with a particular policy. However, in this case, the displeasure is well documented and distributed, and for the most part, people are aware that it is happening. The problem is apathy, not awareness. The public feels paralyzed (a feeling which, judging by the comments here, your film in fact makes worse) and officials are bribed by the very companies that do the spying to keep it ongoing. I want to stress that by and large I found the film enlightening and well produced, however I have to laugh at anyone who honestly thinks that the way to end the survailence state is through changing your twitter icon or clicking "sign" on an email forward. In short, This is not something that can be solved from the comfort of your couch behind a computer monitor. I respect that you all need this professional activism to continue indeffinitly in order to keep your livelyhood intact, but that doesn't help "we the people" in any way.

cullenhoback30 karma

While I understand the sense of hopelessness, what I can tell you is that audiences are, by and large, shocked by the content of the film. This suggests to me that, while there may be awareness of these issues on reddit, there is a significant portion of the population that still doesn't understand why Edward Snowden did what he did. My hope is that the film can help bridge that gap. Awareness has also led to a ton of potentially meaningful reforms being introduced to Congress (with votes that have come close, like the Amash Amendment). I believe we are at the tipping point here. There is value in awareness. Companies are responding to the global erosion of trust. The government is responding to a growing uneasiness with certain surveillance activities. We need to be optimistic here, and we need to not feel completely impotent. While making the film, I didn't have a strong sense of what the solutions might be. However, since then, I believe that solutions have emerged. If you dig through this thread, I think there is cause for hope, and that awareness is the first step.

benwizner40 karma

It's an important questions. We really need to change on all fronts. We need the internet and telcos to do more to protect us from government surveillance. And we need the government to do more to protect us from corporate predation. The danger comes when the govt and the corporations work hand in glove. . . .

DrewMThrowaway12 karma

It seems to me that the core issue is the current legal interpretation of the 4th amendment: you suspend your right to privacy by agreeing to share your data with company X. Company X has an agreement to share that data to company Y who has an agreement to share that data with company ABC and agency NSA. So, I'd think this is more a supreme court issue than something that can be fixed in legislation. Considering that the majority of that court was appointed by Bushbama, I don't have much hope that they would rule favorably on this issue.

cullenhoback25 karma

The third party doctrine is a massive problem. Remember how the gov subcontracted out operations they couldn't legally do to Blackwater in Iraq? These tech/telecom giants play the same role as a third party in the US, allowing certain government agencies unadulterated access to nearly every detail of our lives. This would be illegal if they tried to get it from us directly.

SatanIsSanta34 karma

I just want to say that you guys are awesome. "Terms and Conditions May Apply" was really frightening to see just how much information they record.

And now for a question: What are your guys' next plans in the fight for online privacy?

cullenhoback28 karma

Really appreciate the feedback.

We have a campaign at that will keep the fight going. Next step will likely be pushing the idea of "the right to know, the right to control". We should have a right to any info that a company is holding on us and we should have control over that information. I think we need to rethink ownership of personal data, take it from the company and restore it to the individual.

I'm also going to be traveling for the next year to campuses and venues speaking about the issue.

cullenhoback18 karma

But reigning in the NSA is a priority. The USA Freedom Act may be a step in the right direction, but it doesn't get us all the way there. We're going to need meaningful regulation, innovation, and better public awareness.

KindlerAshlandPianoT15 karma

Mr. Hoback, I can host you in Ashland, Oregon (on I-5 near California border,) home of SOUTHERN OREGON UNIVERSITY. I'm a 70-year-young 'townie' with home less than a 30-minute walk from campus in this progressive town of about 20,000 denizens. E-mail me for my address and/or phone numbers. Kindler [email protected]

cullenhoback7 karma

Lets see what we can make work!

davidadamsegal32 karma

And from the bottom of our hearts over at Demand Progress: Thanks so much to everybody who participated in the online screening. There were 2,752 of you! This was our first time using that platform, which we've been building over the last few weeks, and we look forward to doing more screenings and chats with all of you down the line and working with all of you to perfect the system.

stealthmidget14 karma

Are you able to mine any demographic or other data from those of us who watched?

Just kidding - terrific job on the film, it was a real eye opener!

cullenhoback16 karma

Did you read the terms and conditions at

cullenhoback8 karma

Thank you Demand Progress for making this event happen. It was massive undertaking. It was awesome to see so many people engaged in discussion on Twitter.

benwizner29 karma

A few of you have asked: "What do we do?" Come on, people, social movements are not rocket science. All of our freedoms are hard-won. We need to build a much larger constituency for privacy. We need to push our legislators to make this issue a priority. We need to educate and organize and litigate and lobby and make noise. If we don't, Fort Meade and Silicon Valley will own the future.

xAnneFrank420x27 karma

What would you have done differently if you had made this documentary after the Snowden leaks?

cullenhoback40 karma

After the Snowden revelations hit, I panicked and thought I would need to start gutting and re-editing the film. They happened 3 weeks before our theatrical. However, after trying to modify the film, I realized that what Snowden revealed were the names of programs/specifics we had never known before. However, we had been warned about the broader capabilities of the NSA by whistleblowers for years. My panic subsided and I realized that I didn't need to change anything. That said, let's see how the next year shakes out. Another film may be in order...

benwizner29 karma

I watched the film both before and after the Snowden revelations. The film is much more powerful now -- mainly because it essentially predicted what Snowden revealed.

Gravy-Leg__17 karma

I've read that Snowden is having financial problems. Is there anything we can do to help?

benwizner25 karma

Thanks for your concern. Snowden is doing well and he appreciates the support he's received from people around the world. If you'd like to contribute to his defense fund, you can do so here:

davidadamsegal13 karma

We'll be getting started in like 5 minutes


In your opinions, is it realistic for an average citizen (American, European, etc.) to disconnect/remove themselves from the grid? In your opinion, how would that be achieved to the most successful degree?

benwizner33 karma

In my view, "opt out" is not going to be a realistic option for most people in the age of dragnet surveillance. I hope that people will use encryption to raise the cost of mass surveillance, but unless we get our laws in line with technology, we won't be protected.

cullenhoback9 karma

New technologies allow for a certain evolutionary advantages. If we try to unplug or disconnect ourselves, we're faced with becoming less fit for survival. If this is the case, we need to rethink how the tools are built, or put requirements in place that demand the Constitution be upheld in the engineering of new systems. Otherwise, where someone can have a competitive advantage, it will likely be taken to the detriment of society as a whole.

TCG12313 karma

ok... so I know that my privacy is being violated.. I mean I have no privacy. This is creeping me out! What do I do?

cullenhoback26 karma

We have some tools listed at our website: Anonymous searching like duckduckgo, tracking prevention like ghostery or disconnect, ip hiding like Tor or TunnelBear, new social network experiments like Sgrouples, plug-ins for Firefox like lightbeam are all places to start.

TheBulge11 karma

Thank you for everything you guys do. The documentary was highly informative and accessible. I think it's going to make waves with the general public over the next few months/years.

Guys, donate to Demand Progress if you want to help fund the people who are working so very hard to fight the governments and corporations who are stealing our right to privacy.

cullenhoback5 karma

Seriously, I don't believe the guys behind Demand Progress sleep. They're superhuman. They need your donations to pay for their powers.

zamcraft10 karma

Just wanted to point out that the video is still up and available for anyone who missed the screening. It's on YouTube here:

Anyone who was at the 'screening' could have clicked the link and watched the video on YouTube. You couldn't pause the video on Demand Progress's website, but it was possible on YouTube. And if you missed a part of the movie, you could just go back and view it again.

I find it sort of ironic that a group of people who are seeking freedom actually restrict when and how you watch the film. Anyone with me?

davidadamsegal11 karma

The reason that link existed was because Demand Progress lobbied the distributor to allow our members to watch it for free today.

We don't own the movie or the rights to it.

Wordwizard3 karma

I don't see that a free (for the 1st 3000) screening is restricting freedom. Thank you for the Youtube info, though! >

davidadamsegal5 karma

Thanks, wordwizard. We'd agree.

thereaper849 karma

This film was very well done, interesting, and frightening. To think that even if I wanted to leave Facebook and delete my account, technically I never will be able to leave Facebook because my data will always be with them. I'm interested in seeing the response to this film and hope it gets things moving along to return privacy to us. Thank you for creating this film.

cullenhoback10 karma

Facebook has little to no meaningful oversight. I can't tell you how long they'll retain your account, but if they have something to gain without accountability, you can be almost certain it will be held until it's wrestled away from their cold digital hands.

ronnockoch9 karma

What is your best response to, "If you have nothing to hide, why care?"

Curious because it's my thoughts on it

benwizner6 karma

My colleague Jay Stanley wrote a very nice essay on that subject:

benwizner7 karma

For those of you who want to learn more about the NSA in particular, we have some good resources here:

hselburn17 karma

After watching the movie, which is excellent, I wonder if one day, I might get stopped at an airport for no other reason than I watched this movie.

cullenhoback6 karma

In my travels with the film I met someone who was a makeup artist. She recounted a story of how her father was pulled over in an airport for a google search. Specifically, "scentless poison". Turns out he was writing a novel. I haven't authenticated it, but she had no reason to make that up.

If you do get stopped for watching this movie, it's unlikely you'll ever know why. Good surveillance is invisible surveillance.

Degozaruyo647 karma

Do you think legislation to bring back privacy both from corporations and government would be very effective? Just stopping the collection does not seem it would be enough. They already have so much information, would there be ways to force them to erase what they have collected, or at least portions of it.

benwizner11 karma

Legislation won't solve all of our problems, but it will help. The NSA should not be collecting and storing records of every phone call made in the US. The FISA Court should allow parties other than the government to appear and argue on behalf of privacy. The USA Freedom Act is a good step in the right direction. . .

chuck1386 karma

Hi, I was wondering whats the best course of action for those who were inspired by this film and want to help?

cullenhoback2 karma

Please, tell people about the film, schedule a house party or even a screening in your area. Visit or to get involved.

jameservin4 karma

Good job of illustrating the problem and the futility of protecting our own data. But who is going to begin the discussion of how we can take steps to make our data useless for datamining. How do we begin changing our data to provide disinformation rather than information?

emonegarand4 karma

What is the best way to fight this blatant abuse of the so called terms of service when pretty much any service we use in daily life has some sort of Terms of Service or End User Agreement that need to be agreed to before we can use said services? Our society is so ingrained in online interaction that not agreeing and being denied service keeps most people from taking a stand against it.

cullenhoback7 karma

Theoretically a government gives us collective bargaining power. We need to apply that power to resolve ToS agreements designed to take away our fundamental rights.

asleepattheparty4 karma

Thanks for this amazing documentary and for this AMA, looking forward to it. I have a BILLION ideas running through my head, thank you for sparking all of this. I do, however, have one question that immediately comes to mind.

I think it's troublesome that this has turned into the 'new normal,' as our culture has so voluntarily submitted their information willingly. Do you think this outcry from civil libertarians and privacy advocates is ever going to reach the forefront of legislative bodies when so much of their concerns are divided into issues of job growth/wedge issues and they have to deal with the massive influence of tech lobbyists? Will there ever be a critical mass for the defense of privacy or will it be fought in the margins?

benwizner6 karma

I've been working on these issue for over a decade, and I've never felt the energy and momentum that I feel now. Every generation or so we get an opportunity to pull back the curtain on the Deep State and have a real debate. Snowden gave us this opportunity. Let's not squander it. I don't disagree that we have formidable adversaries, but I really think that both the courts and Congress are going to step up this time.

MSUEH3 karma

Really good, guys, thanks. I took notes, wish I could've d/l it to watch again later or to share with students. Gonna have a DVD available?

cullenhoback6 karma

Working on DVD, right now best option DRM-free is It's also available at the usual culprits.

wfritsche3 karma

That was a great Documentary. I knew about this invasion of privacy but this documentary really helped shed light on the intensity of the problem. Do you have any other plans to increase the number of people aware of the problem?

cullenhoback2 karma

I just hope that people will see the film as a tool and pass it on.

pdxchris2 karma

Why did your group provide legal support to Oliver North?

benwizner3 karma

We are scrupulously nonpartisan. We filed a brief in support of North because we believed he had been convicted on the basis of immunized testimony in violation of the Fifth Amendment. We would do the same for (gasp) Dick Cheney if his constitutional rights were violated.

PipingHotCoffee2 karma

Has there ever been occasions where data was successful in stopping a crime? We saw examples of mistakes occurring in Terms and Conditions May Apply, where facebook posts and tweets were misinterpreted and used to violate someone's privacy, but is this 100% the case?

benwizner9 karma

Of course. Surveillance would be less dangerous if it were wholly ineffective. But f our only concern were to stop crimes, we'd live in a police state. The Framers of the Constitution were more worried about an out-of-control government than they were about bad guys getting away sometimes. . . .

idonotagree-whatnow2 karma

Really great movie - should be translated in all languages! (at least subtitles)!

Just registered here after the movie for the discussion. Who hasn't read the TnC of reddit before - see what you all agreed to (last words):

privacy philosophy we limit data collected about you and your use of the platform, your personal information is never for sale, we use and disclose information to prevent people from abusing the platform, but we never disclose it for any other reason

unless required by law.

So, i do not agree - but what now?

cullenhoback3 karma

For now your only option is to not use the service. We need to change the law that requires that bullet point. That law is The Patriot Act.

DrewMThrowaway2 karma

Givven that your protest netted about 3000 people, and this screening about the same, how do you see a realistic path forward to bring meaningful change when less than 0.001% of the nation is paying attention to it?

TimKarr6 karma

Continue to stay engaged. We (at StopWatching.US) have mobilized 600,000 people to demand an investigation of government surveillance programs, which includes a lot of the collusion between the private sector companies and the intelligence agencies. While these spying programs have been around for nearly a decade (since shortly after the passage of the PATRIOT Act) it's only become part of the national debate since Edward Snowden leaked his files. Some members of Congress have come around and introduced legislation that could curtail a lot of the dragnet surveillance. We need people to urge their members of Congress to support these and other good legislative efforts.

cullenhoback5 karma

3,000 now. But maybe those 3,000 will help get more people engaged. The film is also available on cable through Participant's new station Pivot.

occult_fan1 karma

Tim Karr - Who are some political and public (celebrity) allies you feel would be great to approach for the cause of internet freedom and for the full pardon (side question... do we knight in the US?) of [Sir] Edward Snowden?

TimKarr2 karma

Many have already come forward. John Cusack has been outspoken. Evangeline Lily and Maggie Gyllenhaal have as well. You can check out their video here: