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A Good American

Saturday, May 14, 2016 - 1:30pm
Community Partner(s)

A Good American

Friedrich Moser | 
Austria |
 2015 | 
100 minutes


Edward Snowden’s revelations started an ongoing conversation about government surveillance of our data and communications. With news of the possible fate of Bill C-51, and Apple’s ongoing legal battle with the FBI, this conversation shows no sign of disappearing. The balance between security and privacy seems to have no satisfactory solution. But what if the relationship between governments and our data could have been different? Friedrich Moser’s A Good American poses this question through the story of William Binney, an ex-NSA intelligence official turned whistleblower. Binney pioneered methods of monitoring metadata — information regarding the origins, destinations, and times of phone calls, emails, text messages, and other forms of telecommunications. (More critically, the security system he developed in the early 2000s had built-in privacy protection measures.) Binney’s system was so mathematically rigorous in its ability to identify communications patterns that experts claim it could have prevented 9/11. In remembering September 11, Binney’s pain, regret, and visible disgust with the American security establishment is palpable. As the NSA pushed to develop more expensive, less effective systems to invade citizens’ digital lives in the wake of the “War on Terror,” Binney’s discontent with his former employer reached a breaking point. Although his story shares elements with those of his fellow Citizenfour subject, Binney offers us a unique window into the shadowy world of government security systems. A modern-day Alan Turing, he shows that security and privacy don’t necessarily have to be at odds with one another, adding nuance to one of today’s most divisive conversations. -CP


Friedrich Moser

Friedrich has made over 20 documentaries in the past years, most of them as author / producer / director / cinematographer, among them the feature documentary THE BRUSSELS BUSINESS (2012) about lobbying in Brussels. Friedrich Moser is based in Vienna / Austria with collaborators in London, New York and Los Angeles.

Justice Forum Panelist

Lindsey Bertrand

Lindsey Bertrand is Program Director of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA). Lindsey came to FIPA with a strong background in project management and public engagement in complex issues. She was the first communications manager at OpenMedia, serves on the board of the Canadian Institute for Information and Privacy Studies, and most recently worked for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Lindsey has written and spoken extensively about a number of issues in communications and democracy, including Internet openness and accessibility, media concentration, and privacy rights.

Justice Forum Panelist

Laura Track

Laura is a lawyer with the BC Civil Liberties Association, Canada’s oldest and most active civil liberties organization. Laura works primarily on court cases raising issues of democratic rights protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She previously worked with the West Coast Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund on women’s equality issues, and with the Pivot Legal Society fighting for housing justice in the Downtown Eastside.​