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Freedom Downtime (22-Sep-2001)

Director: Emmanuel Goldstein

Keywords: Documentary, True Crime, Hacking, Prison

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Emmanuel Goldstein
16-Dec-1959   2600: The Hacker Quarterly
John Markoff
24-Oct-1949   New York Times computer guy
Kevin Mitnick
6-Aug-1963   Ghost in the Wires
Bruce Sterling
14-Apr-1954   Schismatrix


Review by quagga@rotten.com (posted on 10-Feb-2005)

The battle between Kevin Mitnick and John Markoff may be familiar to internet geeks, but to those outside the loop, Freedom Downtime is a great introduction to the other side of "hacking".

Narrated by 2600's Emmanuel Goldstein, the movie tracks the government's draconian crackdown on minor computer hackers, delivering enormous amounts of jailtime and fines for crimes that are about as heinous as a parking ticket, crimes that warrant no more than a slap on the wrist.

In a style very reminicent of Michael Moore, Goldstein attempts to do intellectual battle with woefully ignorant New York Times reporter John Markoff, who has published numerous inaccurate articles on "celebrity" hacker Kevin Mitnick, describing him as a virtual second cousin to Ramzi Yousef. Goldstein also attempts to shut down production of "Takedown" a loose-with-the-facts film about Mitnick's exploits based on Markoff's work.

Goldstein offers a simple and clear narrative that even people who don't understand computers will be able to follow. The interviews with Mitnick's family, friends, and other hackers, although informative, do run on a bit long. This is puctuated by Goldstein's wry humor and hands-on approach to movie making which, while a bit amateurish, also conveys a genuine commitment to the movie's stated cause.

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