If It’s Free, You’re the Product

Digital Dissidents Part 2

Al Jazeera (2016)

Film Review

“If It’s Free You’re the Product”

In Part 2, Digital Dissidents reminds us that Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple daily collect and “monetize” (ie sell) millions of data points about us (including records of financial transactions).

The documentary also features rare commentary by Julian Assange on Sweden’s attempts* to charge him with sexual assault. These charges mysteriously surfaced exactly two weeks after Anonymous hacker Jeremy Hammonds released hacked emails between intelligence contractor Stratfor and the US government about potential charges against Assange under the 2017 Espionage Act. Was this mere coincidence? It seems unlikely.

NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and William Binney also talk candidly about the devastating effects of whistleblowing on their personal lives. His career in software systems management ruined, Drake presently clerks in an Apple retail outlet.

Binney, who refers to the NSA as “the Stasi** on super steroids, calls for the total dissolution of NSA. He maintains it has too much power to be reformed.


*Sweden dropped the sexual assault charges against Assange in Sept 2017. As Assange points out in the film, neither woman filed a police complaint and one accuses the police of inventing the crimes she supposedly accused him of.

**As the intelligence/security service for the former East German Republic, the Stasi was one of the most viciously repressive secret police agencies ever.

The video, which can’t be embedded for copyright reasons, can be viewed for free at the Al Jazeera website: Digital Dissidents

3 thoughts on “If It’s Free, You’re the Product

  1. And yet there are still people who believe that Assange is totally a rapist hands down. And if you point out the suspicious political circumstances surrounding the accusations or how they were later dropped by Sweden you’ll be accused of not “believing wahmen”.

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    • Yeah, the people in power will do anything they can to discredit those who expose their crimes. Getting some woman to accuse a person of rape is often a pretty effective strategy. I’ve noticed the political establishment seems especially fixated on getting rid of Wikileaks, to the point where they will seize on any straw they can find to try to discredit or demonize the organization. And it makes sense. Wikileaks holds powerful people accountable for their actions, and the political establishment doesn’t want that. I was actually talking to my mom about this once (she was a Hillary supporter in 2016) and she said Wikileaks has become a right wing outlet, because they released papers on Clinton’s emails. I think that really reveals the extent of the media’s brainwashing of the public. If Wikileaks were right wing, they wouldn’t have also released papers exposing the Kremlin, or Trump’s shenanigans with ICE. Their political bias is and has always been towards the truth, and towards holding powerful people accountable, no matter where they are on the political spectrum. But that truth seems extremely difficult for people of a partisan mindset to accept.

      Liked by 1 person

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