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Erasing David (2010)

6.2
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 356 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 12 critic

Director David Bond finds out how much private companies and government know about him by attempting to disappear. Tracked by two ruthless private investigators, his chilling journey forces him to contemplate the loss of privacy.

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Frank M. Ahearn ...
Himself
David Bond ...
Himself
Cameron Gowlett ...
Himself
Duncan Mee ...
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Storyline

David Bond lives in one of the most intrusive surveillance states in the world. He decides to find out how much private companies and the government know about him by putting himself under surveillance and attempting to disappear - a decision that changes his life forever. Leaving his pregnant wife and young child behind, he is tracked across the database state by two ruthless private investigators, on a chilling journey that forces him to contemplate the meaning of privacy - and the loss of it. Written by Anonymous

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He has nothing to hide but does he have nothing to fear?

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26 September 2010 (Canada)  »

Also Known As:

True Stories: Erasing David  »

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User Reviews

 
Privacy issues are hot, but unsure this film will reach out and convert people
21 October 2010 | by (Amersfoort, The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

The description of this film refers to the hot issue of privacy, especially with the fast growing number of social interaction websites in mind. These websites leave too much opportunities for people to publish personal details, which may come to haunt them sooner or later. Any means to make people aware of the underlying risks can be considered useful and should be judged on their educational merits.

As a former (retired) security consultant I know how difficult it is to make people aware of issues like these. On the other hand, Internet providers and social websites do everything in their power to downplay these problems. The privacy policy of e.g. Facebook is infamous in being much longer than the American Constitution, even more uninviting to read from A to Z, and not easily understood in all its intricacies.

There are a three scenes that may achieve some awareness, and are worth mentioning for that reason.

Firstly, main character David takes a lot of trouble in finding out how much details are kept by institutions he knowingly has contacts with, like schools, government, telephone companies, etcetera. He asks them to print everything they have about him, to envelope it and to send it to him. After making categories he finds out, much to his surprise, that by far the largest pile is what is kept by private companies. Obviously, he has agreed to that in the past, but forgot that. Also is unclear what he agreed to precisely. There seem to be no limits to what they can do with the data.

Secondly, there was a discussion with his wife when he wanted to withhold his signature for enrolling their child in the fingerprint system that the school just bought. School managers he spoke expected a lot of the new system, but failed to see the issues set out by David. His wife had a similar "what harm can be in that" attitude, and his explanations were as seeds falling on unfruitful land (as worded in the New Testament).

Thirdly, near the end of the film, David sees with his own eyes how much data the two private investigators had collected about him in a few weeks time. It included information that he did not know even existed, or that he himself had forgotten a long time ago. Nearly everything was obtained legally and from publicly available sources. Only one thing (the hospital appointment) was the result of social engineering. Absolutely no hacking was involved in the search.

Overall, the film is a constant mixture of three interleaving story lines: earlier research by David, the chase by two hired detectives to find out his whereabouts, and some interviews with experts in the field. Throughout, there is a high percentage of viewer education, which may be considered "boring" by many people but unavoidable to get the main issues across. The same "boring" characterization may apply to David's own research, but it is a somewhat dramatized hence much less "teacherish". The actual chase carries the film. Though not ended the way I expected, it can be applauded as a very good attempt to make the whole film acceptable for average viewers.

But still, one may ask what the ideal target group is for this movie. It does not look commercially viable to run it in a normal theater. Similarly, it seems too long to get it programmed on a public TV channel. In general, I cannot think of an opportunity to show it to a broad audience.

If all else fails, can it then serve its purpose as part of an educational program in a school?? Maybe it can work, especially when followed-up by a discussion or writing an essay. As I said, every chance to educate younger people on this, is worth every effort.


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