Digital Dissidents

The warriors of the digital age fighting for transparency and privacy in the technological world

Digital Dissidents Never has the role of the whistleblower been more in the public eye. They are the warriors of the digital age, fighting for transparency and privacy in an advancing technological world. Why do they risk everything to do it and can their cause be called a patriotic duty? Critics condemn their actions and claim they endanger our security, others celebrate them as heroes. A fresh insight into those called to serve a complex, life-changing mission.

Whistleblowers: patriots or traitors? Do the secrets they reveal ultimately liberate or damage their nation and its citizens? Digital Dissidents delves deep into the heart of what it means to be a whistleblower and the nature of their quest to disclose radical truths hidden from society. Offering a poignant insight into the personal experiences of the most famous whistleblowers of the 21st century. Including Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, it asks what drives them to blow the whistle? What is so wrong with the surveillance climate at large in our current culture?

"You do it because you have to" explains Assange, trying to articulate the complex sense of duty he feels towards his controversial Wikileaks project. The 'godfather' of modern-day whisteblowers, Daniel Ellsberg, who arguably started it all when he leaked documents revealing the true nature of the Vietnam War, is similarly passionate about the cause of public information: "I would rather take the risks of democracy rather than the risks of dictatorship" he says.

Featuring testimonies of previous employees, Digital Dissidents paints a worrying picture of the ever expanding National Security Agency in America, increasing in power and data collection all the time. It's "like the Stasi on super-steroids", says Thomas Drake, once a senior executive figure at the NSA. Their "collect-it-all" mentality purports to make Americans feel safe, yet in fact encroaches upon and damages every individual's personal sense of security. "But what happens to a society that is consciously aware of being permanently observed? Where every step, every action leaves a trail?", asks former MI5 agent Annie Machon.

In the same way as the famous maxim that every terrorist is someone's freedom fighter, so do the whistleblowers' actions divide opinions. This murky ground is opened up within this documentary exploring the value of the secrets revealed and the depth of what they discover - as well as the damage it causes to their own lives after the big reveal. Forever criminalised and hounded by the authorities, their lives are radically changed. But questions still remain - would we be better knowing these secrets at all? How can we positively act upon the emerging threats to our human rights and privacy? What can we do?

Laurel Official Selection - Raindance Film festival 2015
Laurel Official Selection - Montreal World Film Festival 2015


The Producers

Gebreuder Beetz Filmproduktion has produced more than 120 high-quality documentaries and documentary films for the international market and is, according to branch leader “Realscreen”, one of the 100 most important independent production companies worldwide. The company’s productions regularly screen in the competitions of all international A-festivals and have won multiple respected awards.

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