Imagine one of your friends is arrested, given no trial, kept in solitary confinement for 8 months, and all he did was snoop around some computer systems. Then imagine that your friends story was reported by a profiteering New York Times reporter, and he got together and wrote a book – which was later turned into a film – with the guy that helped put your friend away.

You’d be pretty pissed off right?

This all happened to hacker spokesperson (he’ll probably hate that title) Emanuel Goldstein of Off the Hook, and 2600 Magazine fame. The friend in question – Kevin Mitnick – was at one point dubbed the ‘most dangerous hacker in the world’, and a target of the FBI. As the press didn’t seem interested in hearing the true story of what happened to his friend, Goldstein decided to do the legwork himself. Freedom Downtime is a document of what happened next.

The film is a fantastic window into the DIY approach to activism, as you witness Goldstein and friends travel America attempting to interview the alleged ‘victims’ of Mitnick’s ‘crimes’ . It also acts as a scary warning to those that could potentially end up in a tussle with the frighteningly corrupt US legal system – Take-home message: You don’t stand a chance.

Ken Eakins

(The film is floating around in various places for free, but I whole-heartedly recommend buying the DVD here)

About the Author

Ken Eakins is a filmmaker and weird stuff enthusiast from the South of England.

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