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We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists cover photo

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists 2012

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Ro*co Films International, llc, 80 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 5, Sausolito, CA 94965; 415-332-6471
Produced by Luminant Media
Directed by Brian Knappenberger
DVD, color, 88 min.

General Adult
Computer Science, Crime, Ethics, Political Science, Popular Culture, Technology

Date Entered: 03/22/2013

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

On 16 December 2012, the website of the Westboro Baptist Church along with the Twitter account of one of its spokespeople was abruptly disabled after the Kansas-based extremist religious organization announced plans to picket the funerals of Sandy Hook Elementary School victims. The cyber-attack was among the latest activities of an elusive assemblage of computer technologists and political activists, known as Anonymous. Often appearing in public wearing plastic Guy Fawkes masks to avoid identification and arrest, the members of this transnational collective of internet hackers have also been named in similar website incidents, or raids, as well as involvement in the worldwide Occupy movement, Arab Spring protests, and the Wikileaks controversy.

In this fast paced, eye-opening film, the origins and development of the hacker activism is traced through the words and deeds of Anonymous and other digital disobedience groups, including The Cult of the Dead Cow, LulzSec, L0pht and others. Through a technological tactic known as DDoS, or distributed denial of service, hackivists working in groups and individually have targeted and brought down such diverse sites as the Church of Scientology, PayPal, and Lufthansa Airlines. They have also exposed pedophiles, informants and hate groups. More than a band of merry pranksters, seeking disruption for the sake of chaos, these men and women are engaged in acts of protest and civil disobedience, with a well defined and passionately held philosophy and set of ethics. That there are good guys and bad guys in this story will be obvious; however who those people are and what they do is thoroughly unexpected and thought provoking.

An official selection at numerous independent film festivals, the film was awarded Best Picture Documentary at the Los Angeles Downtown Film Festival in 2012.