This is a documentary about how the US government mistreats, persecutes, and intimidates hackers and activists. Directed by Vivien Lesnik Weisman, this movie includes interviews by a plethora of hackers, writers, journalists, and activists.
Hackers who are activists, hacktivists, are either seen as terrorists or as freedom fighters. It all depends on each person’s opinion about who should be in control of information. The term hacktivist has been defined as a person who uses technology to effect social change. Hackers have the ability to expose the secrets and the inner workings of the government in an embarrassing way. That’s the reason why they are feared and why they are being pursued with a vengeance.
The Hacker Wars tells the tales of three men: Andrew “Weev” Aurenheimer— convicted of hacking AT&T, Jeremy Hammond, and Barrett Brown. These three larger than life characters set out on separate quests to expose dangerous secrets. As a result, they were thrown into a collision course with shady corporations and the FBI. The last blow was dealt when one of their own betrayed them.
Andrew Aurenheimer believes that the educational system has been specifically engineered to make people dumb, obedient, and not creative. The FBI has been on to Weev since he was fifteen years old. According to the bureau, they wanted him to become some type of informant about hackers on the Internet.
It was Barrett Brown, Anonymous propagandist and journalist, who said that Information is a weapon, and when it’s used honestly, it can be the most effective change agent in the world. He believes that most media companies won’t spend a single hour doing honest investigation before reporting the news. According to Barrett, the purpose of journalism is not to please those who are in power but to report the truth even when it makes those in power uncomfortable. Barrett has been known to hold press conferences from his bathtub.
The group that calls itself Anonymous is an open brand. Although Barrett has been seen as its spokesperson, he’s technically not anonymous, and allegedly not a hacker.
This movement wants to get common citizens to wake up and start thinking for themselves. It encourages people to question authority and to not be afraid to leek the data and documents if they’re working for a corrupt company or government.
The big questions are how far are citizens willing to go to defend their ideas? Is trolling or hacking helpful? And who is receiving any benefit from the work hacktivists are doing? Regardless of how liberating the rhetoric might seem to be, is anarchy really the answer? And is hacking all that different from what the government is doing by disregarding the right to privacy?