Is information free? Should it be? If you were a genius playing in the dark corners of the internet, what would you fight for?
These are some of the questions posed in "We Are Legion." This broad look at activism on the internet has a clear agenda: it celebrates the trollers, pirates and truly free-thinkers of the online world. This story offers little to those who would condemn the activity as 'illegal.' In taking this position, the film offers access to some of the most notorious characters in hacker-culture, focusing specifically on the group known as 'Anonymous.'
The doc explains that sites like 4Chan were havens for those seeking venues to explore true freedom of expression. The content found on these sites was often nasty stuff, but rising out of the barbs and grime of actual free will spawned something else: heart.
Anonymous wasn't really looking for a cause in the early 2000s. Heck, they weren't even known as Anonymous yet. There had been spamming, trolling and general tomfoolery, all just because they could, but if you have a hive of hacker savants who're bumming around looking for a fight, all you need is the right kind of jerk to spur on a movement. That jerk was Hal Turner.
Turner is a white supremacist who broadcasted a web-radio show that spewed hate on a weekly basis. Anonymous probably wouldn't have spilled one drop of Red Bull had it not been for Turner's nasty comments about one of their 4Chan cohorts. For the first time, the punk-rockers of online culture would have clear moral high-ground should they decide to wreak havoc on another site. Everyone was on-board, and a hacktivist movement was born, even if it was for a personal vendetta.
"We Are Legion" cites the Hal Turner example and many others, to paint a picture of rebellion on the internet. The video leak of Tom Cruise speaking Scientology gibberish, the attempted e-bombing of PayPal and Mastercard during the height of the Wiki-Leaks scandals, the costly take-down of Sony's Playstation Network (PSN).
What the film proves is that there is power in numbers when it comes to online activism. It also profiles the danger, too. Dressing up in your "V for Vendetta" Guy Fawkes mask and marching around big cities is one thing, but having the FBI show up at your house is another. When you create a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack that brings down the CIA website, you can't just check your Gmail and call it a day -- there will be reprecussions.
"We Are Legion" is a decent doc about hactivism, but a great resource to a world relatively ignorant to the goings-on deep within the internet.
Tue, May 1, 6:15 PM Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Thu, May 3, 3:00 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Sat, May 5, 7:00 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Full schedule of Hot Docs screenings Hot Docs Day 5: 'The Queen Of Versailles' Hot Docs Day 4: 'Bones Brigade: An Autobiography' Hot Docs Day 3: 'Beauty Is Embarrassing' Hot Docs Day 2: 'Beware Of Mr. Baker' Hot Docs Day 1: "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry"