A group of lawmakers active on technology policy, including Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), will appear in a documentary film that examines the recent policy battles in Washington over the future of the Internet and its infrastructure.
The film, "War for the Web," is expected to be completed in early 2014 and will touch on issues ranging from net neutrality, cybersecurity, competition in the broadband market, online privacy and last year's protests over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
It also includes interviews with several prominent figures in the tech policy realm, including Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Google Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf, former White House official Susan Crawford, Public Knowledge Senior Vice President Harold Feld and Michael Copps, a former Democratic commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission.
The documentary is being developed and produced by a team of three filmmakers. J. Cameron Brueckner is serving as the director and producer of the film. Ben Caspi is also serving as a producer, with Michael Wooldridge, who is the film's writer.
In an interview with The Hill, the creative team said the aim of the film is to raise public awareness about the current policy battles being waged over the future of the Internet in the U.S. The film also endeavors to explain how the infrastructure that powers the Internet works.
Wooldridge said he became interested in making a documentary about the Internet after news broke in 2008 that underseas cables had been cut, disrupting Web access in the Middle East and India. Around that same time, he saw a photo series in Wired magazine that traced the journey of a bit across the U.S.
After researching more about the infrastructure of the Internet, Wooldridge said the producers found that "a lot of these conversations about [Internet] policy are happening right now and people aren't paying attention" to them.
"That's a really dangerous thing," Wooldridge said.
The team said it's spent more than two years researching the top Internet policy issues being discussed in the United States. The producers have filmed 17 interviews for the documentary and are looking to head back to Capitol Hill in early June to film another round of interviews with lawmakers.
The film has an advisory board comprised of industry representatives and is sponsored by the International Documentary Association, but the filmmakers are raising additional funds for the project on Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
For the film, the producers conducted an extensive interview with Internet activist and accomplished programmer Aaron Swartz. The interview was filmed in July 2012, months before Swartz committed suicide early this year as he faced federal hacking charges from the Justice Department.
He faced a prison sentence of up to 35 years and a fine of up to $1 million for breaking into a computer network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and downloading 4.8 million academic articles from a subscription service.
Wooldridge said the film will likely include a discussion about Swartz's death and the decades-old computer hacking law that lawmakers are reviewing in the wake of his suicide, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
"I don't think it's going to be possible to ignore the CFAA and Aaron's death. It's not the focus of this project, [but] it's certainly going to come up," he said.
During the interview, Swartz made the point that the Internet could be viewed as either a force used for good or for bad, and "it's really up to us to impose upon it the values of humankind," according to Brueckner.
"It's up to us running the network to get involved and govern how it gets used moving forward," said Brueckner.
Source: The Hill Newspaper