Code and Movies: “Killswitch”

On January 18th, 2012 the largest online protest ever took place. Over 150 000 websites either blacked out their pages or made statements against the The Stop Online Piracy act and Protect Ip act (SOPA and PIPA), both legislative initiatives that would have allowed the US Justice Department and copyright owners to shut down sites under the accusation of copyright infringement, threatening the free sharing nature of the Internet.

Wikipedia, Reddit, and Wired Magazine, among others, joined forces with the online community and put enough pressure on the political class that both bills were “shelved” indefinitely two days later; it was a massive triumph for activists during a time of online organization and solidarity.

In the broader context, this event was a landmark in the fight for the control for information access that has been raging since the internet became a mainstream tool in our world, and this is what Killswitch (2014) is all about.

Directed by Ali Akbarzadeh, Killswitch covers topics in the current information access struggle using renowned voices like Tim Wu, Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and contributor for the New York Times, Lawrence Lessig, Professor at Harvard Law School and Peter Ludlow, former professor at Northwestern University.

One of the most interesting themes is the notion that this fight is not new, and has arisen with every new media. When it first arrives, a new media is exciting and a place of great innovation, but in time each one is contained and centralized in order to control its message, as Tim Wu points out. However, this time the process is attempting to gain control of a media that currently enables horizontal organization and, according to Lessig, “encourages us to become owners of the political process”.

This is a great documentary that reminds us that our free access to the information on the internet shouldn’t be taken for granted, and it covers the figures of Aaron Swartz, Kim Dotcom and Edward Snowden. The latest issue: Net Neutrality.

As Peter Ludlow remind us that “we are fighting over the Internet. It is a battleground”.

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